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Pa. gets $2.7M for insurance marketplace navigators

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Pennsylvania will be getting about $2.7 million of the $67 million awarded today to navigator grant applicants.

Navigators are supposed to help consumers use the health insurance marketplaces that are to open on Oct. 1. Today's awards were just for states that, like Pennsylvania, have chosen to proceed with a federally facilitated exchange or a federal partnership exchange, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

HHS said the total award amount nationally was originally set at $54 million, but that it was able to supplement those designated funds with $13 million from a prevention fund.

In total, 105 applicants were awarded grants. The five in Pennsylvania are as follows:

• Resources for Human Development Inc., $953,176: Resources for Human Development Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Philadelphia, will provide enrollment assistance in the 10 counties with the highest rates of uninsured people. RHD will target specific groups and individuals who traditionally have poor access to health care insurance coverage.

• Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers, $694,380: Pennsylvania Association of Community Health Centers represents and supports the largest network of primary health care providers in the Pennsylvania. PACHC will coordinate enrollment assistance efforts in underserved areas throughout the commonwealth using a connected and networked approach.

• Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers' Association, $380,000: Pennsylvania Mental Health Consumers Association will work in a consortium with Mental Health Association in Pennsylvania and Mental Health America Westmoreland County to provide enrollment assistance to people who use or need behavioral health services in their insurance plans, particularly those who experience serious mental illness or serious psychological distress.

• Cardon Healthcare Network LLC dba Cardon Outreach, $178,500: Cardon Healthcare Network has more than 20 years of experience providing in-person eligibility assistance to Medicaid enrollees in 33 states. Cardon Healthcare Network will provide outreach and assistance with existing robust infrastructure.

• Mental Health America, $503,129: The Mental Health America Navigator Initiative will target underserved individuals with behavioral health disorders who are uninsured or underinsured. The National Office of Mental Health America will serve as the lead agency in the initiative. The Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania will serve Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

HHS describes Navigators as follows:

"Navigators are trained to provide unbiased information in a culturally competent manner to consumers about health insurance, the new Health Insurance Marketplaces, qualified health plans, and public programs including Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. The Navigator funding opportunity announcement was open to eligible private and public groups and people who are self-employed who met certain standards to promote effectiveness, diversity, and program integrity.

"Navigators will be required to adhere to strict security and privacy standards — including how to safeguard a consumer's personal information. They'll be required to complete 20-30 hours of training to be certified, will take additional training throughout the year, and will renew their certification yearly. All types of enrollment assisters — including in-person assistors, Certified Application Counselors, and agents and brokers — are required to complete specific training and are subject to federal criminal penalties for violations of privacy or fraud statutes, on top of any relevant state law penalties."

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