Laura Colbert, executive director of the advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future, said the mass health insurance loss “spotlights a real weakness in our health system.” “On the other…
Open enrollment for the new health insurance marketplace begins on October 1st–a mere 53 days from today. Over the past several months, Georgians for a Healthy Future has been working with community-based organizations, health care focused nonprofits, and other stakeholders to discuss plans for coordinating outreach and enrollment efforts in preparation for the new marketplace. Thanks to your robust participation, we have already had several productive conversations to get this effort underway. Last week, we held a webinar to share the latest information available on national and state plans around outreach and enrollment.
The webinar included presentations by:
- Tony Garr of Enroll America
- Duane Kavka of the Georgia Association for Primary Health Care
- Lynn Quincy of Consumers Union
- Cindy Zeldin and Amanda Ptashkin of Georgians for a Healthy Future
The slides from the webinar are available here. You can also access a recording of the webinar here. Back in April, we also held a webinar and in-person meeting to discuss the federal navigator program. For those of you who missed those meetings, materials can be found here.
In addition, many of the resources and materials discussed or requested during last week’s webinar are available below.
Health Insurance Navigator Grants: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to announce grant awards to health insurance navigators on August 15th. Health insurance navigators awarded grants through this program will conduct outreach and facilitate enrollment into qualified health plans when open enrollment begins in October. More information about the federal navigator program and the role of navigators is available here. When the grant awards are announced, we will share that information with you.
Certified Application Counselor Program: HHS also recently released the application for interested organizations to sign up as designated Certified Application Counselors (CACs). Certified application counselors will also assist consumers with enrollment into qualified health plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace. While there are no federal grants associated with this program, as there are with the navigator program, becoming a designated CAC organization is a terrific opportunity for entities that have a stake in covering as many Georgians as possible to engage directly in outreach and enrollment work. The application can be found here and guidance from CMS further describing the role of CACs can be found here.
Champions for Coverage: Do you want to help get the word out about the new health insurance opportunities that will be available this fall to members of your community thanks to the Affordable Care Act? Become a Champion for Coverage! Get widgets and badges for your website; fact sheets, posters, and brochures to distribute; and help get out the word about www.healthcare.gov and the new Health Insurance Marketplace call center line available to assist consumers at 1-800-318-2596 by officially becoming a Champion for Coverage. You can learn more about this HHS program here.
Help consumers learn about the new premium tax credits: Lynn Quincy of Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy division of Consumer Reports, participated in last week’s Georgians for a Healthy Future webinar to brief us on a new resource available to navigators and others in Georgia assisting health care consumers. A new consumer-oriented brochure explains how the tax credit would work and whether you and your family might be eligible for it. For those of you conducting outreach around the new Health Insurance Marketplace, this is a great tool for you. The brochure is available here, and ancillary information and materials are available here.
Public Policy & Advocacy Update: Georgians for a Healthy Future is closely monitoring public policy developments around health insurance outreach and enrollment and actively advocates for health care consumers on these issues. Below are some important updates for you:
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued its final rule on health insurance navigators, which clarifies how the navigator program will work. Our friends at Families USA put together a summary of this rule, available here.
- During the 2013 Georgia Legislative Session, our state’s policymakers enacted HB 198 into law, which requires state training, licensure, background checks, and continuing education for navigators. Georgians for a Healthy Future has some concerns about this legislation and the potential hurdles it sets up for community-focused nonprofits already facing an uphill battle to reach, educate, and facilitate enrollment for consumers who haven’t historically had insurance. As such, we reached out to the Georgia Department of Insurance with suggestions to make the implementation of the law less burdensome for navigators, and some of our input was incorporated. We will continue to monitor this process with an eye towards ensuring navigators and assisters aren’t impeded from carrying out their important work. The regulation implementing HB 198 is available here. We will provide additional information when we have it about the state requirements for navigators and certified application counselors. Georgians for a Healthy Future was also featured in two recent news articles in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the navigator program, available here andhere. Additionally, the Center for Public Integrity just released an article focusing on various state licensure laws as they affect navigators. That article can be found here.
- Last week, health insurance premiums for the Marketplace were a hot topic, as Georgia’s Insurance Commissioner released some information about the rates that insurance companies proposed for the Marketplace. Georgians for a Healthy Future was frequently cited in media coverage of this issue, drawing attention to the fact that many consumers who were shut out of the market in the past would now be able to purchase insurance for the first time, with hefty tax credits that will make these plans affordable. This issue was covered by theAtlanta Journal- Constitution, Georgia Health News, The Augusta Chronicle, andWSAV-Savannah. These articles are available here, here, here, here, and here.