State Will Use Federal Grant to Expand 211 Health Resource Referrals

July 3, 2012 -- Oregon has received a nearly $128,000 federal grant to help the referral service 211info expand its counseling to people seeking health care resources. 211info is a nonprofit organization that provides guidance and information about Oregon health and social support services.

The Oregon Insurance Division received the consumer assistance grant as part of federal health care reform. It will use the funds to transfer its Oregon Health Connect program to 211info over the next several months.

Health Connect has two employees and an extensive online resource directory. Since it started operating in early 2011, the program has served as a clearinghouse for consumers who need help navigating the myriad of health insurance assistance programs offered by multiple state agencies.

“Our highly trained Health Connect staff link people to services in their community, whether it is pre-Medicare counseling, or health insurance for someone with a pre-existing condition or low-cost primary care,” Oregon Insurance Commissioner Lou Savage said.

“We are pleased that a highly visible referral service like 211 will take on the program permanently,” Savage said. “People looking for services know to call 211 and this grant will enable that program to become a more in-depth resource for the uninsured, the underinsured, and others in need of health care assistance.”

Approximately 125,000 people call 211info in a year, and about 63 percent of callers report having no health insurance.

“This is part of an effort to expand and deepen 211info services in the health care arena to meet the varied and complex needs of our clients,” 211 Director Liesl Wendt said.

The referral service operates from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Call 211 or visit its website: http://211info.org/. You can also dial 866-698-6155 in Oregon.

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