The Center for Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) has posted a grant application aimed at individuals and organizations that want to be “navigators,” or ombudsmen, for “federally facilitated exchanges” (FFEs).
CCIIO, the arm of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) overseeing U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) efforts to implement the insurance provisions in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) has about $54 million in navigator grant funding available.
Applications are due June 7.
Each grant would cover a 12-month period that would start Aug. 15.
PPACA calls for HHS and state regulators to open exchanges, or Web-based health insurance supermarkets, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by Oct. 1.
PPACA also calls for the exchanges to provide navigators who get no compensation from health insurers to help individual consumers use the new exchanges and understand how to shop for health coverage.
Advocates of the navigator program have argued that the navigators will focus mainly on serving low-income people and uninsured people who have not had much contact with commercial insurance agents and brokers in the past.
Some states are setting up their own exchanges and their own navigator programs.
CCIIO — pronounced “Sih-Sigh-Oh” — is setting up HHS exchanges and navigator programs in some states, and it is sharing duties by setting up “partnership” exchanges in a few states.
CCIIO has said that it wants the exchanges it runs to work as closely with agents and brokers as state law permits. Agents and brokers would continue to get commissions from health insurers.