The Arkansas Insurance Department announced Friday (June 14) the launch of its Arkansas Health Connector program with the award of contracts to 23 organizations to serve as guides to help consumers better understand their health insurance options.

A new online exchange will be launched later this year to help Medicaid eligible citizens shop for subsidized health plans, and the Affordable Care Act also requires the online exchange to provide options for consumers.

Each of the 23 organizations will employ “guides” to provide in-person assistance to consumers as the new health insurance coverage options become available in October 2013.

The organizations, counties covered and numbers of guides for each are:

  • Arkansas Health Care Foundation; Jefferson, Hot Spring, Pulaski, Faulkner Counties; 4 Guides
  • Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind; Pulaski County; 1 Guide Better Community Development, Inc.; Pulaski County; 4 Guides
  • Central Arkansas Volunteers in Medicine d/b/a/ Harmony Health Clinic; Pulaski County; 5 Guides
  • Central Arkansas Library; Jefferson, Faulkner, Lonoke, Pulaski, Saline Counties; 8 Guides
  • CHOCCROSS, LLC; Lee, Monroe, Crittenden, Cross Counties; 7 Guides
  • Community Health Centers of Arkansas, Inc.; Benton, Calhoun, Carroll, Clark, Cleveland, Crawford, Crittenden, Drew, Greene, Hempstead, Lawrence, Lafayette, Lincoln, Logan, Marion, Montgomery, Newton, Ouachita, Phillips, Poinsett, Polk, Pulaski, Randolph, Searcy, Sebastian, Sevier, Union, Van Buren, Washington Counties; 42 Guides
  • Covenant Medical Benefits, Inc.; Clay, Craighead, Cross, Greene, Jackson, Mississippi, Lawrence, Poinsett, Randolph, Sharp Counties; 32 Guides
  • East Arkansas Enterprise Community, Inc.; St. Francis County; 8 Guides
  • Economic Opportunity Agency of Washington County, Inc.; Washington County; 7 Guides
  • Friendship Community Care, Inc.; Boone, Pope, Washington, Stone Counties; 4 Guides
  • Future Builders, Inc.; Jefferson, Faulkner, Garland, Grant, Lonoke, Perry, Pulaski, Saline Counties; 20 Guides
  • Harbor House, Inc.; Crawford, Sebastian, Polk Counties; 3 Guides
  • Hope, Restoration & Wellness Learning Center; Pulaski County; 1 Guide
  • IN Affordable Housing, Inc.; Conway, Yell, White, Faulkner, Garland, Grant, Lonoke, Pulaski, Van Buren Counties; 15 Guides
  • Mental Health Council of Arkansas; Miller, Sevier, Union, Cleburne, Craighead, Independence, White, Pulaski, Benton, Washington, Boone, Crawford, Sebastian Counties; 16 Guides
  • Options for Life Services, LLC; Columbia, Dallas, Hempstead, Howard, Lafayette, Little River, Miller, Nevada, Union, Bradley, Jefferson Counties; 11 Guides
  • Quapaw House, Inc.; Garland County; 1 Guide
  • Southeast Arkansas Behavioral Healthcare System, Inc.; Jefferson, Grant Counties; 3 Guides
  • The Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas; Benton and Washington Counties; 10 Guides
  • The Living & Affected; Jefferson, Sebastian, Faulkner, Garland, Pulaski, Saline Counties; 7 Guides
  • Tri-County Rural Health; Arkansas, Ashley, Chicot, Desha, Drew, Jefferson, Lee, Lincoln, Monroe, Mississippi, Phillips, Crittenden, Woodruff Counties; 38 Guides
  • Women’s Council on African American Affairs, Inc.; Pulaski County; 4 Guides

In addition the Insurance Department said three organizations have pending contracts to serve as guides. They are:

  • Arkansas Department of Health; All 75 counties; 265 Guides
  • Arkansas Guide Organization; Boone, Carroll Madison, Marion, Searcy Counties; 9 Guides
  • Arkansas Minority Health Commission; Ouachita, Sevier, Union, Desha, Phillips, Pulaski, St. Francis, Crittenden Counties; 10 Guides

Over 500 new jobs are expected to be created to implement the program.

“Guides have a vital role in outreach and enrollment, informing Arkansans of their new health insurance options and connecting them to the federal Health Insurance Marketplace,” said Insurance Deputy Commissioner Cynthia Crone, Arkansas Health Connector Division. “This local approach will ensure that community-based resources will be utilized to reach the uninsured and underinsured, and expand access to health care for many residents who have not had coverage in the past.”

Crone stated that negotiations are ongoing with additional community organizations to ensure that all communities and populations are served.

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