Disparity Evident in Navigator Grants

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media , April 10, 2013

The likelihood of a state's willingness to help the federal government out on this component of PPACA will vary from state to state.

In Texas, a state vehemently opposed to the law , the disparity highlights the uphill climb federally run exchanges face. A state's stubbornness on the issue of consumer assistance could spell disaster for other HIX partners.

For example, if the money doesn't go far enough to help the uninsured understand what their choices are, insurers run the risk of enrolling the population they fear they most: the sickest, because it stands to reason they will need the most help the process of enrolling. In Texas and in other states resisting the expansion of Medicaid, this could be particularly acute.

States have until June 7 to apply for the grant money. For those who receive it, the grant requires that navigator programs provide up to 30 hours of training for the actual navigators carrying out the task of helping consumers understand the HIX and their choices. They'll also be given an exam to make sure they understand exchange-related information. CMS will award the grants by August 15th.

A program that is rooted in helping uninformed and uninsured consumers navigate the confusing path of health insurance could, ironically, turn out to be the talking point states opposed to PPACA use to help prove their case against the new law.

Jacqueline Fellows is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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