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HHS Awards Navigator Grants to Facilitate Insurance Marketplaces


States are preparing to implement their health care exchanges as required under the federal Affordable Care Act. On October 1st, individuals will be able to enroll in the marketplaces and choose their insurance coverage. On Thursday, the U.S. Health and Human Services Agency announced grants to help states enroll individuals in those marketplaces.

Some states, such as New York and Vermont, are setting up state-based marketplaces. Others will coordinate with the federal government in a partnership marketplace. The remaining states, including New Hampshire and Maine, will operate federally-facilitated marketplaces. On Thursday, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced 67 million dollars in grant awards for the federally-facilitated and state partnerships to train so called “navigators” that will help people enrolling in the programs.

Health and Human Services Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight Deputy Director of Policy and Regulation Chiquita Brooks-LaSure clarified that the grants are not available for state-based exchanges like in Vermont and New York.

Two New Hampshire organizations will receive grants. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England serves nearly 16,000 patients at six health centers across the Granite State. Spokesperson Jill Krowinski says Planned Parenthood has already discussed access to health insurance, and the $145,000  federal grant will allow it to train a navigator at each of its six health centers in New Hampshire, plus hire three to work across the state.

Both New Hampshire grantees also service Vermont, which is implementing a state-based marketplace, and therefore ineligible for this round of navigator grants. But Vermont is already training more than 200 navigators for its state-based Health-Connect program. Planned Parenthood’s Jill Krowinski says fundamentally, all navigator programs are the same.

Bi-State Primary Care Association, which represents a dozen community health centers in New Hampshire, will receive about $435,000.
In the Northeast, Health and Human Services grants were also awarded to organizations in Maine, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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