Health

ACA navigators to receive record funding

Health Insurance Navigators will receive $98.9 million in grants for the 2023 open enrollment period, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday.

Funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is more than the government has allocated to navigators in the past and is on the heels of a record high enrollment for 2022.

Navigators help consumers or small employers browse health insurance options and apply for financial assistance, especially from federal health insurance exchanges in the 33 states served by HealthCare.gov. States that have their own exchanges have separate enrollment counseling programs.

“We’re redoubling our efforts to make sure people get the insurance they need,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a press release. “Navigators help us a lot to reach people, wherever they are, by telling them about health insurance options that can save their lives.”

Last year, the administration of President Joe Biden gave the Mariners $80 million after President Donald Trump’s administration cut funding. Under Trump, HHS awarded navigators $10 million annually between 2018 and 2020, up from $36 million in 2017 and $62.5 million in 2016 when Barack Obama was president.

The Trump administration has also removed the requirement that each marketplace have at least two navigators with a physical presence in their service areas, and has encouraged navigators to promote less reliable and cheaper associations and short-term plans. Trump’s HHS also cut funding for outreach and marketing, as well as shortening the open enrollment period.

Restoring support for exchanges has become one of the first priorities of the Biden administration. In his first month in office, Biden ordered HHS to open a special registration period and directed regulators to review policies that could undermine exchanges. A record 14.5 million people have been reached through marketplaces for 2022, in large part because Congress authorized an increase in COVID-19 relief financial assistance. This month, Biden signed into law a three-year extension of those larger subsidies.

Grants for the 2023 season are divided among 59 organizations. Individual awards range from $12.9 million for the University of South Florida/Florida covering children and families to just over $170,000 for St. Joseph’s Mercy Services in Georgia.

The grants include $12.5 million in additional outreach and enrollment efforts to help people who need to transition from Medicaid or children’s health insurance programs to swap coverage.

As a general rule, states must retain people enrolled in Medicaid and CHIP during the COVID-19 public health emergency, which is expected to last until October and may be extended. But when states resume re-eligibility, a projected 8.2 million will no longer qualify for these programs and will need to secure alternative health coverage, according to HHS. report.


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