Delaware — a state with a partnership exchange program — is setting up a Marketplace Assister (MPA) program to supplement a federally run exchange navigator program.

The MPAs would help consumers sign up for health coverage through Delaware’s new health insurance exchange program.

Six organizations originally expressed an interest in serving as MPAs, and Delaware officials are now negotiating final deals with four of the vendors, according to Public Consulting Group Inc. (PCG). 

The exchange is hoping the four MPAs will start reaching out to consumers in July, according to PCG.

PCG said PCG is working with the Delaware insurance department, Medicaid division, and social services division to set up an online training program for all consumer exchange assistance personnel operating in Delaware.

“All trainees will be required to successfully complete an exam on programmatic and technical training content prior to full certification,” according to PCG.

PCG, which is helping Delaware officials with their share of the exchange construction job, described the Delaware exchange MPA program in a presentation on the Delaware Health Insurance Marketplace Project prepared for the Delaware Health Care Commission.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) requires the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or state agencies to set up exchanges, or Web-based health insurance supermarkets for individuals and small groups, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by Oct. 1.

PPACA also requires every state to have “navigators,” or independent ombudsmen not affiliated with health insurers, to help consumers use the new system.

States can choose whether to start their own exchanges, let HHS provide exchanges for their residents, or share the exchange management job with HHS through a partnership arrangement.

Delaware is an exchange partnership state.

Because HHS is operating a “federally facilitated exchange” (FFE) in Delaware, and not relying on Delaware to handle all exchange responsibilities, HHS is setting up a federally supervised navigator program for the state.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an arm of HHS, has budgeted about $600,000 for Delaware navigators, PCG said.

HHS also has provided about $326,000 in grants for health center outreach and enrollment assisters, PCG said.

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