‘Nav­i­ga­tors’ OK’d to help with en­roll­ment

Work­ers to guide Arkansans through in­sur­ance ex­hange

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - ANDY DAVIS

A state agency will so­licit bids Mon­day for con­tracts to help Arkansans en­roll in cov­er­age of­fered through the state’s health in­sur­ance ex­change, the agency’s board de­cided Fri­day.

In ap­prov­ing the so­lic­i­ta­tion in a phone con­fer­ence, the Arkansas Health In­sur­ance Mar­ket­place board of di­rec­tors didn’t say how many out­reach work­ers, known as nav­i­ga­tors, they hope to em­ploy un­der the con­tracts. But a mar­ket­place spokesman has said the agency will likely seek to have 15, the same num­ber that were em­ployed un­der a pre­vi­ous con­tract.

The mar­ket­place op­er­ates an in­sur­ance ex­change for small busi­nesses and pro­motes en­roll­ment in the state’s fed­er­ally op­er­ated ex­change for in­di­vid­ual con­sumers. Open en­roll­ment

through the in­di­vid­ual ex­change, ac­ces­si­ble through health­care. gov, runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.

The 2010 Pa­tient Pro­tec­tion and Af­ford­able Care Act re­quires ex­changes to have nav­i­ga­tor pro­grams. Money for the Arkansas nav­i­ga­tors comes from a fee, equal to 3 per­cent of the pre­mi­ums for plans sold on the ex­change,

that the mar­ket­place col­lects from in­sur­ers.

Un­der an ear­lier con­tract, the mar­ket­place paid Bos­ton- based Pub­lic Con­sult­ing Group $ 552,000 to pro­vide 15 nav­i­ga­tors from Oct. 1 through June 30. The con­sult­ing firm sub­con­tracted the work to En­roll the Ridge in Jones­boro and Wrightsville- based Fu­ture Builders.

The con­sult­ing firm pro­vided the ini­tial money needed to hire the or­ga­ni­za­tions

and was then re­im­bursed by the mar­ket­place af­ter the agency be­gan col­lect­ing the fee in De­cem­ber. The firm didn’t charge a fee for han­dling the con­tracts.

Fol­low­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion from its con­sumer as­sis­tance com­mit­tee, the board didn’t spec­ify a bud­get for the new con­tracts. The mar­ket­place hopes to award the con­tracts by Sept. 15 and to have them signed by Oct. 1.

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