Health care help coming to borough via state grant to Brooklyn Alliance

July 11, 2013 Helen Klein
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A New York State grant will enable a local business group to develop a program to help Brooklyn residents navigate the changing U.S. health care system.

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on July 11 that the grant would go to the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Brooklyn Alliance, its not-for-profit arm, to create and run what is known as the “In-Person Assistor/Navigator Program” for the borough.

Developed in the wake of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the goal of the Navigator – which will kick off later this year — is to provide information as well as access and enrollment to health insurance services available to Brooklynites.

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“We are committed to lending a helping hand to Brooklyn businesses and countless Brooklyn residents, currently without affordable options for coverage,” stressed Carlo Scissura, the chamber’s president and CEO.

To help disseminate important information and provide access to enrollment, the chamber will partner with the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) “to connect Brooklynites with services and benefits that can improve their lives,” said Linda Johnson, BPL’s president and CEO. To that end, satellite offices will be set up in several branches – specifically, Sunset Park, Marcy, Bushwick, Greenpoint, East Flatbush, Mapleton, Flatbush and Kings Highway. The chamber will also promote enrollment at community events around the borough.

This is not the first time the chamber has been involved in channeling information about health care across the borough. According to materials released by the group, “The chamber has had a contract to educate small businesses about the changes to insurance under the ACA since 2012.”

The chamber has also been a pioneer in the arena of health care, founding Brooklyn HealthWorks more than 10 years ago “to provide affordable health insurance coverage to businesses and employees meeting specific wage requirements,” the chamber said. Over 900 businesses currently participate in the program.

“Given the fact that the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce has the experience and knowledge of operating Brooklyn HealthWorks, this seems to be a natural progression for the chamber. The chamber recognizes that healthcare is an essential part of the business community needs as well for all of Brooklyn,” noted Denise Arbesu, the chamber’s chair.

The chamber is one of 50 groups across the state that were chosen to be a part of the initiative.

In Kings County, over 55,000 children and 387,000 adults did not have health insurance as of 2009, according to the Brooklyn Chamber.

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