HIX Navigator Grants Get $67M Boost

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , August 20, 2013

States that have declined to set up their own health insurance exchanges will receive additional funds to help individuals work through online health plan options.

In a surprise move Obama administration officials announced last week the addition of $13 million to the grant amount awarded to community groups that will help individuals "navigate" their way through the on-line health insurance marketplaces expected to begin operation on Oct. 1.

The 105 organizations selected will now share $67 million in grants rather than $54 million as was first announced in April. The increased funding, which officials stressed is not new money, was allocated to the Department of Health and Human Services from a prevention fund created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The grant recipients are from states, including Florida, Texas, and Tennessee, that declined to set up their own health insurance exchanges and instead will rely on the federal government to operate their exchanges.

While the reason behind the increase was not directly addressed, concern has been expressed from several quarters that navigator funding for the federal HIX pales when compared to the funding for state-based exchanges.

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