Public Library Association launches 2021 health insurance enrollment project

For Immediate Release
Mon, 06/29/2020


Scott Allen

Deputy Director

Public Library Association

American Library Association

CHICAGO — Through the third cycle of its health insurance enrollment and education initiative, Libraries Connecting You to Coverage, the Public Library Association (PLA) is offering a series of mini-grants of up to $2,000 to support up to 30 U.S. public libraries to become Certified Application Counselor Designated Organizations (CDOs), which are able to certify staff and volunteers as Certified Application Counselors ahead of the Open Enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The application period opens on July 1 and runs through July 17, 2020. Before the Open Enrollment period, which starts November 1 and runs through December 15, 2020, awardees will receive training and support to assist patrons with enrolling in health insurance plans, to disseminate information, and to partner with community health groups to make a positive impact.

“We are very excited to continue this work with Community Catalyst which allows us to offer this opportunity to libraries and their communities. The number of uninsured people in the U.S. is deeply troubling, especially now,” explains PLA Executive Director Barb Macikas. “Through this work, we can assist more people with access to health care to reduce health disparities and improve community health outcomes. Together, we can enroll even more consumers in the Affordable Care Act.”

PLA, with its network of public libraries and library advocates, recognizes that health insurance and health literacy are priorities that allow individuals and families to navigate the broader health system to obtain needed care and improve health outcomes. Fears about health care (or lack of) during the coronavirus pandemic are raising the profile of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also commonly known as “Obamacare,” which can help those who have lost their jobs with an option to get health insurance. As of May 14, an estimated 16.2 million workers have likely lost employer-provided health insurance since the crisis unfolded.

Library workers and patrons who have experienced job loss can lean on special enrollment coverage options as part of the ACA, check their eligibility for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and familiarize themselves with reliable health resources. Libraries can support their communities with promotional efforts to increase awareness of health insurance coverage options and more with freely available materials. PLA is offering a suite of tools to promote health insurance and health literacy education to diverse groups and individuals.

Access to current and reliable health information is imperative for the advancement of population health and reducing health disparities, especially with the current uncertainties related to the pandemic and the economy. There is a strong and compelling need to adequately support patron assistance and access to health literacy experts, especially for underserved communities. Building the capacity of libraries to increase their communities’ health and reinforcing the two-way communication between patrons and stewards of reliable information is essential to this work of reaching the newly uninsured and those who have never had health insurance.

If you have questions about the application or process for becoming a CDO contact Symone Villasenor at, 312-280-5018 or Leighann Wood at, 312-280-5867.

About the Public Library Association
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 10,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders. For more information about PLA, contact the PLA office at 1 (800) 545-2433, ext. 5PLA, or