Illinois Sees Additional Funding Cuts For ACA Navigators
Illinois will receive about $380,000 this year to fund navigators who help enroll people and families in health insurance plans on the marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act. That’s compared to the more than $3 million the state received to fund those positions in 2013, the year the program launched, according to an announcement made last week by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Claudia Lenhoff is executive director of Champaign County Health Care Consumers, an advocacy organization that also provides help and information regarding insurance options. She said the steep cuts to navigators under President Trump could contribute to fewer people being insured.
“You know this is still really new, and we always have new people coming in to the marketplace, and they basically need a guide to help them through it,” Lenhoff said.
Lenhoff said her organization is too small to have received federal funding this year, or in past years, but they have Certified Application Counselors who can help guide community members about their health insurance choices for free.
“We’ve seen many different situations and circumstances so we can help individuals and families sort out what might work best for them,” Lenhoff said.
Only two organizations in the state received federal funds this year to pay for navigators. SIHF Healthcare, which serves counties primarily in southern Illinois, received $180,689 to target "left behind consumers in both urban and rural areas, African Americans, unemployed and individuals in economic distress," according to the CMS website. The Planned Parenthood of Illinois Exchange Navigator Program was awarded $208,527 to provide navigation services in Cook and Kane counties.
Last year, the state received about $1.7 million to serve more areas, including Champaign. The significant cuts made nationwide this year "mark a new direction for the Navigator program aimed at providing a more cost-effective approach that takes better advantage of volunteers and other community partners,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a press release about the drop in funding.
Open enrollment for plans on the Healthcare.gov marketplace begins Nov.1 and ends Dec.15.