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Public Health

Posted on: October 28, 2019

Public Health Division’s Minority Health Program Receives $20k Grant

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The City of Portland Public Health Division’s Minority Health Program is pleased to announce that the Maine Health Access Foundation has awarded it $20,000 grant to assist efforts in increasing the number of Portland residents enrolled in the MaineCare and Marketplace Healthcare Programs. 

“We are very excited that our partnership will support Maine’s efforts to do outreach and increase enrollment for MaineCare and Marketplace for minority and underserved populations in Greater Portland,” said Nélida R. Berke, Minority Health Program Coordinator for the City’s Public Health Division.

Through the support of the grant, the City’s Minority Health Program will increase MaineCare and Marketplace enrollment for minority populations with assistance from Community Health Outreach Workers (CHOWs). The program will serve identified low-income and underserved French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, and English-speaking community members. Five CHOWs will carry-out outreach and education events in their respective communities to identify persons who are either newly eligible under the 2018 MaineCare expansion or are seeking new or re-enrollment for the Federally Facilitated Marketplace. As part of the project, each CHOW completed extensive training to become a Certified Application Counselor (CAC) and are qualified to assist in enrollment for both programs. The grant award covers a project implementation starting September 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020 with the majority of the enrollments being carried out by December 31, 2019. 

After the July 2018 expansion of MaineCare, over 70,000 people in Maine became eligible for Medicaid, including those with incomes up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Limit, people who are pregnant, and people ages 19-20 who are currently uninsured. Although residents in the state have access to enrollment-support organizations such as Consumers for Affordable Health Care (CAHC) and Maine Equal Justice Partners (MEJP), the biggest barriers to enrollment are knowledge of the opportunity to enroll and completing the extensive electronic paperwork, barriers which have greater impacts for non-English-speaking or low-income community members. The following CHOWs will be available to provide enrollment in specific languages and can be contacted through email or telephone for support:

For more information about the project, contact Nélida R. Berke, Minority Health Program Coordinator, at (207) 874-8735 or email her at

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