Navigator Program Raises Doubt

At least one company's doubts about the reform effort have led to their departure from the new navigator program intended to assist the uninsured in obtaining health plans through the federal health exchange.

At least one company’s doubts about the reform effort have led to their departure from the new navigator program intended to assist the uninsured in obtaining health plans through the federal health exchange. Cardon Outreach, who has been helping to enroll Medicaid beneficiaries for years, will be returning more than $800,000 in federal grant money intended for hiring navigators.

“The emerging state and federal regulatory scrutiny surrounding the Navigator program requires us to allocate resources which we cannot spare and will distract us from fulfilling our obligations to our clients,” said the group in a recent statement.

Almost $70 million in federal navigator grants were recently issued to ensure consumers successfully enroll in the healthcare insurance exchanges. Navigators, of course, are the volunteers who will be entrusted with the task of guiding Americans through purchasing health plans in state and federal exchanges. The Texas-based organization was included in this latest batch of navigator grants.

While Cardon did not go on to list too many specifics, the requirementsof the navigator program raise many uncertainties. States like Wisconsin and Indiana, for instance, are asking navigators to pay for their training fees while others are charging for background checks. Grant recipients have been questioned about their budgets, training, and supervision, sometimes even being required to procure documentation. Consumers are also worried about the security of the health database being used; navigators will have access to buyers’ personal information including their income and immigration status.

“It is shameful and unprecedented for Congress to bully and intimidate private organizations that have legitimately received federal grant money to do nothing more than help people enroll in health coverage,” US Department of Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said.

Around the Web

Company Returns $800K ‘Navigator’ Grant as Obstacles to Implement Affordable Care Act Mount

[The Washington Post]

Federal Grants to Assist Navigator Program [AJMC]