MNsure to look for African American outreach fundsby Catharine Richert, Minnesota Public Radio
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Officials for MNsure say they are trying to find extra money so it can enlist more organizations to help enroll people in the state's new insurance marketplace.
The announcement follows complaints from community leaders that no organizations primarily serving African Americans received state funding to provide assistance.
People in that community are more likely to be uninsured, said state Sen. Jeff Hayden, DFL-Minneapolis, at today's hearing.
MNsure board chairman Brian Beutner said he wants MNsure staff to scrape together extra money to solve the problem.
"I've heard feedback that we may not have done as good a job as we could" in picking grantees, Beutner said. "So we've put it on our agenda to discuss the gaps."
Beutner also said choosing organizations that are well-known within different ethnic communities is important.
More than 100 groups applied for the $4 million available to hire staff or buy equipment to reach out to Minnesotans who lack health insurance. Only 30 groups got the money.
But even if there's more money, Hayden said he thinks the process is inherently flawed.
"If there wasn't a targeted way to bring [African American] organizations in... how do we know that in the next iteration that we won't do the same thing?" Hayden said.
He asked MNsure Executive Director April Todd-Malmlov whether any African Americans were involved in the selection of the original 30 groups.
She said no.