Press Release

August 5, 2015
Cardin, Mikulski Announce $75,000 to Connect Lower Shore Farmers, Watermen and Employees of Small Businesses with Health Benefits Counseling

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced that the Worcester County Health Department has been awarded a $75,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fund a Rural Benefits Counseling Program on the lower Eastern Shore. The program will enhance an existing connector program by launching a targeted public awareness and enrollment campaign directed at the sometimes hard-to-reach population of farmers, watermen and individuals working in related small business who are currently uninsured or underinsured.


“Your zip-code or profession shouldn’t limit your access to quality affordable healthcare,” said Senator Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee. “We know that farmers, watermen and those who work for small businesses in agriculture and aquaculture add a great deal to our regional economy. We also know that these same men and women are more likely to be eligible for health care coverage assistance, but lack the resources and information to apply for financial help to offset the cost of coverage. This grassroots approach to outreach, education and benefits counseling will help Marylanders access the coverage they deserve and need to live healthy and productive lives.”


“Regardless of whether you live in an urban or rural community, whether you work in a city, field or fishery, you deserve access to quality healthcare,” said Senator Mikulski, a senior member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee. “This grant is about making sure our health system does a better job of serving the families of farmers and watermen on our Eastern Shore, giving them the resources and information they need to enroll in decent, affordable healthcare coverage.”


“We are thrilled that our project has been selected,” said Worcester County Health Officer Debbie Goeller. “The award gives us the support we need to roll up our sleeves and implement a targeted campaign to improve access to and information about health care coverage among farmers, watermen and small businesses in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties.”


The grant would support new outreach and education efforts for Marylanders in the lower shore region by leveraging existing partnerships with chambers of commerce, economic development offices, trade associations, and other organizations serving those in the agricultural and commercial fishing industries. Staff offering benefits counseling would be fully mobile and connect with those seeking guidance where they live, work and play. Worcester County Health Department will administer the program to Marylanders living in Somerset, Wicomico and Worcester counties.