N.J. Gets $2M In Grants For Health Care Navigators

NJBIZ — Thursday, August 15, 2013

By Beth Fitzgerald

The federal government today awarded more than $2 million in grant money to fund the outreach efforts of health care "navigators" in New Jersey.

The navigators are social service agencies that will help enroll New Jerseyans in subsidized health insurance plans and Medicaid starting Oct. 1. That's when the online health insurance exchange — being created by Washington under the Affordable Care Act — will go live, allowing consumers to shop for coverage that will be a requirement for most on Jan. 1.

Experts have said hundreds of thousands of New Jersey's nearly 1 million uninsured residents could get coverage through the ACA, but it will be tough getting the word out in poor communities or places where English is not widely spoken. That's where navigators come in.

New Jersey originally had been slated to get about $1.5 million in navigator grants. Dena Mottola Jaborska, of New Jersey Citizen Action, said she was "very glad to see the amount awarded to New Jersey increased," but she remains concerned about parts of the state without coverage.

"These are great groups to conduct the enrollment assistance work, but we need more of them," she said.

Following are the navigator grant winners:

The New Jersey funding is among $67 million in navigator grant awards nationwide announced today by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. HHS has previously awarded New Jersey's federally funded health centers $3.4 million to hire staff to help enroll the uninsured in health plans.

"Navigators will be among the many resources available to help consumers understand their coverage options in the marketplace," Sebelius said in a statement. "A network of volunteers on the ground in every state ... can help spread the word and encourage their neighbors to get enrolled."

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