MNsure Scrambles To Approve Grants For African American Groups

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Leaders of Minnesota’s new health insurance exchange moved quickly to fix what they now admit was a mistake.

The MNsure Board of Directors voted to add $750,000 in grants to organizations trying to enroll uninsured Minnesotans in the new federal health care law going into effect January 1st.

MN had already awarded $4 million in grants to 30 local organizations, but African American and Somali leaders complained that none of the grant money went to legacy African American and Somali groups where the need is most acute.

More than a million Minnesotans are expected to sign up for the new federal health care program, including 51,000 African Americans, who make up 17.9 percent of the state’s uninsured.

“This is a huge lift,” said Minnesota Human Service Commissioner Lucinda Jesson, who is also on the Board. “There are going to be glitches. There are going to be mistakes. We have to quickly recognize that and learn from them and keep moving on. That’s going to happen because we are trying to do so much.”

Alfred Babington-Johnson, the president of the African American community organization Stairstep Foundation in Minneapolis, said his group was initially denied a grant.

He calls the fix “a good outcome.”

“The key to MNsure’s success will be enrolling the uninsured,” he said.

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