The nation’s librarians will be recruited to help people get signed up for insurance under President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. Up to 17,000 U.S. libraries will be part of the effort to get information and crucial computer time to the millions of uninsured Americans who need to get coverage under the law.
The undertaking will be announced Sunday in Chicago at the annual conference of the American Library Association.
The initiative starts Oct. 1, when people without health coverage will start shopping for insurance online on new websites where they can get tax credits to help pay the cost. Low-income people will be enrolled in an expanded version of Medicaid in states that adopt it.
About 7 million people are expected to sign up for coverage in the new marketplaces next year, but the heavy emphasis on the Web-based portals puts anyone without access to a computer at a disadvantage.
Libraries equipped with public computers and Internet access already serve as a bridge across the digital divide, so it made sense to get them involved, said Julie Bataille, spokeswoman for the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.