By Tricia Brooks, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families
Let’s face it. Health insurance is complex, even for those of us who have worked in the field for years. Combine that with applying for means-tested financial assistance (through systems that are still being debugged), and there is no doubt that it can be a frustrating experience for consumers. Numerous studies have illustrated the critical role that navigators and certified application assisters play in helping consumers maneuver this complicated landscape. Without their assistance, for many consumers, the ACA would be an unfilled promise rather than the resounding success it is in making health insurance a reality for our nation’s uninsured.
Last week, CMS awarded $67 million to help consumers enroll and renew coverage in OE3 and beyond. Of the 100 organizations receiving grants, 67 are returning organizations. While the $67 million covers one year, these grants could run for three years if grantee’s performance meets expectations. As I noted in this blog, 3-year grants will provide stability in enrollment assistance, enabling navigator entities to recruit and retain permanent professionals and assure high quality assistance for consumers.
Since October 2013, nearly 25 million people (11.7 in the Marketplace and 13.1 in Medicaid) have gained health coverage through new affordable options put in place by the Affordable Care Act. Navigators and certified application counselors can be proud of the role they have played in helping the most vulnerable consumers gain the peace of mind and financial security that health coverage brings.
Up next – $40 million in outreach grants (thanks to the renewed funding for CHIP early this year) should be announced soon. And, we are anxiously awaiting the release of the American Community Survey data that will give us the most detailed look at how far we have come in advancing health coverage for low-income children and families. Hope you got some R & R over the Labor Day holiday weekend – we’re in for a busy fall.
Editor’s Note: This is a lightly edited version of a post originally published on the Center for Children and Families’ Say Ahhh! blog.