Navigator Program Equipped to Help Texans in Need of Health Coverage
Today members of the Texas Well and Healthy campaign released a statement, celebrating the awarding of federal grants for “navigators,” the people and groups certified to provide in-person assistance to Texans learning about their health care options and enrolling in the new health care marketplace. Eight organizations will receive training and certification to help Texans enroll in health plans. From our statement today:
“With 6 million uninsured Texans, we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to enrollment starting in October,” said Stacey Pogue, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Public Policy Priorities. “Navigators will fill a critical need by providing knowledgeable in-person assistance through familiar and trusted community groups, to help people apply and sort through new coverage options.”
“Our state has a long, successful history of partnering with informed community-based groups to help people enroll in health insurance like Medicaid, CHIP and Medicare. Just as there are protections in place for our existing assistance providers, our new navigators will be subject to thorough training, certification and oversight,” said Anne Dunkelberg, interim executive director at the Center.
- Navigators will offer knowledgeable, in-person assistance to consumers and small employers and help them learn about their coverage options in Texas. Selected to also assist with outreach to underserved groups, the navigators include United Way organizations in El Paso and Tarrant County, the East Texas Behavioral Health Network, Migrant Health Promotion in the Rio Grande Valley, the Urban League and others.
- Demand for navigators is high, and the law takes their role seriously. In national polls, 75 percent of people who would be eligible for coverage in the marketplace indicated interest in receiving in-person assistance to learn about and enroll in coverage. The Affordable Care Act put high standards in place for navigators and certified application assisters and creates a system of oversight.
- Federal rules for navigators address privacy directly and prohibit the use of consumers’ personal accounts or information without the consumer’s involvement. What has worked for Texas seniors and families with children can also be effective for Texans learning about their coverage from navigators and certified application assisters. Texans will be able to locate these trained and certified authorized assistance providers listed on www.healthcare.gov when seeking help with enrollment. Groups awarded grants were subjected to screening as part of the grant application process to ensure they meet standards, and all individuals authorized to assist with Texans’ enrollment in the marketplace will have to meet standards and receive training and certification that includes privacy and security standards.
Yesterday, in advance of today’s scheduled announcement about grant recipients, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent a letter to US Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about privacy considerations and the navigators program.
“Officials from Texas and the other states that are involved keep trying to sow doubt about the Affordable Care Act, but the law is well on its way to helping millions of our nation’s uninsured receive the health care they need,” said Katrina Mendiola, executive director of Engage Texas. “What Texans need to know is there will be experts—who are screened and authorized to help—ready to help them find out about their health care options and get enrolled on October 1.”
Texas Well and Healthy is a grassroots campaign to improve health care access for Texans. It is a project of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, Engage Texas, Children’s Defense Fund – Texas and Texans Care for Children, in conjunction with the broader Cover Texas Now coalition.