Federal Grants to Assist Navigator Program

Almost $70 million in federal navigator grants are intended to ensure that consumers will able to successfully enroll in the healthcare insurance exchanges (HIEs) when they go live, October 1.

Almost $70 million in federal navigator grants are intended to ensure that consumers will able to successfully enroll in the healthcare insurance exchanges (HIEs) when they go live, October 1. Navigators are the individuals entrusted with the task of guiding Americans through purchasing health insurance in the state or federal exchanges. These grants serve as an additional resource to the $150 million in federal grants that helped state health centers hire navigators nationwide. Groups awarded include hospitals, universities, senior centers, Planned Parenthood, and United Way.

"We know that a lot of people prefer in-person help," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "We know there's a lot of work to be done, but we'll be ready for whatever comes up.”

Navigators must receive an initial 20 hours of training, and additional training throughout the year ,to serve as guides. In addition, compensation for exchange employees will range anywhere from $20 to $48 an hour.

Exchange spokesman Richard Sorian stated, “We see the population that is uninsured as fairly hard to reach, so we're taking a systematic approach.”

Federal funding of this important initiative in the Affordable Care Act will ensure that consumers become better educated about their healthcare insurance choices. In states like New Jersey, navigators will also assist in reaching those with language barriers, or those in economically challenged communities. However, even with grants, there may be a need for further financial assistance.

“The amount of federal money New Jersey is receiving only represents about 10 percent of how much we think is needed to ensure the most New Jerseyans possible benefit from health care reform” said, Ray Castro, of the New Jersey Policy Perspective "Without additional resources, many of the 900,000 uninsured New Jerseyans who are eligible for help in the marketplace may not even know about this opportunity."

State-run exchanges may have more financial resources than those states using federally-run exchanges for consumer assistance. California, for instance, has budgeted $50 million for navigator assistance in their state-run exchange over the next two years. Florida, who opted for a federally-run exchange, will conversely only have about $8 million in assistance funds.

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Around the Web

Navigator Grant Recipients [CMS]

$67M doled out to those aiding others navigate health care [USA Today]

Feds Award $67 Million In Grants To Help Consumers Navigate The Health Law

[Washington Post]

Community Health Centers — In Every State – Get Obamacare Outreach Funds [Kaiser Health News]

Navigators to Play Critical Role in Healthcare Exchange Marketplaces - See more at: http://www.ajmc.com/focus-of-the-week/0413/Navigators-to-Play-Critical-Role-in-Healthcare-Exchange-Marketplaces#sthash.RonCtjbM.dpuf

Navigators to Play Critical Role in Healthcare Exchange Marketplaces [AJMC]

N.J. gets $2M in grants for health care navigators [NJ Biz]