HHS Awards Grants To Aid In Health Law Navigation

The grants are part of the health law's outreach and assistance efforts, viewed as linchpins to the law's success.

The Associated Press: White House Awards $67M To Community Groups To Hire, Train Navigators To Enroll Uninsured
With the new health law's enrollment period set to open in just a little more than six weeks, President Barack Obama's administration announced $67 million in awards Thursday to organizations that will help people understand their new insurance opportunities and get signed up. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the Navigator grant awards to 105 groups in states where the federal government will run online insurance marketplaces. Sebelius said consumers are "hungry for information" (Johnson, 8/15).

The Washington Post: HHS Awards $67 Million To Help Uninsured Sign Up For Health Coverage
Many uninsured Americans don’t know about the marketplaces or have little idea how they would work, polls show. Complicating the enrollment process are the huge gaps in resources and readiness between the 17 states and the District that are running their own marketplaces and the 34 states that resisted and are being run or partly run by the federal government (Sun, 8/15).

Kaiser Health News: Feds Award $67 Million In Grants To Help Consumers Navigate The Health Law
Hospitals, universities, Indian tribes, patient advocacy groups and local food banks were among organizations awarded $67 million in federal grants Thursday to help people sign up for coverage in new online health insurance marketplaces that open for enrollment Oct. 1 (Galewitz, 8/15).

The New York Times: $67 Million Awarded To Groups Helping With Health Law
The administration had initially planned to spend less — $54 million — on navigators in the 34 states where the federal government will run all or part of new insurance markets created under the law. Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services, said the additional $13 million had come from a fund set up under the health law to pay for public health and preventive care initiatives (Goodnough, 8/15).

The Wall Street Journal: Groups Get $67 Million to Promote Health Exchanges
Republican opponents of the Affordable Care Act have raised various objections about the navigator program. On Wednesday, 13 Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to Ms. Sebelius raising privacy concerns. The Obama administration says that ensuring the confidentiality of personal information is a top focus and that navigators will get training in that area. In addition, some insurance brokers have questioned whether the navigators would effectively act as unlicensed brokers (Schatz, 8/15).

Politico: HHS Announces Obamacare 'Navigators'
And the navigators program could get caught up in yet more Obamacare politics. At least 19 of these states have enacted their own extra requirements for either more navigator training and licensure requirements beyond those required by Washington, according to a report from the Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms. That’s prompted concerns among Obamacare advocates of more legal skirmishes about state versus federal rules or implementation delays as the enrollment clock is ticking (Millman, 8/15).

The Hill: Officials Add Millions Of Dollars To ObamaCare Enrollment Drive
Texas was by far the biggest recipient of navigator grants, at nearly $11 million, followed by Florida at roughly $7.9 million. Both states are critical to the success of the enrollment push and, by extension, the healthcare law. In addition to navigators, HHS will operate a website and call centers where consumers can ask questions about their coverage options. The department has also inked partnerships with libraries, community health centers and other community organizations to help provide information about the law (Baker, 8/15).

CBS News: Obamacare Targets "Young Invincibles" Demographic
The government's goal is to enroll 7 million Americans in the exchanges by next spring. For the system to work, about 2.7 million of them need to be young adults between the ages 18 and 35. They help offset the costs of older, generally less healthy people, according to the Congressional Budget Office (Tracy, 8/15).

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