The Obama administration has awarded $67 million to fund its ObamaCare “navigators,” the contractors who will receive training (but not background checks, apparently) to assist Americans in putting their private data into the ACA exchanges for health insurance. Thirteen state attorneys have already expressed considerable alarm at the issue of data security in the exchanges, but for now it’s full speed ahead:
After several months of delays, the Obama administration awarded $67 million on Thursday to fund an army of outreach and enrollment workers known as “navigators,” who will help people sign up for coverage on the new state health insurance marketplaces beginning Oct. 1.
With less than seven weeks to go before the marketplaces start enrolling people in Obamacare for 2014, more than 100 navigator programs will be on a tight schedule to assemble, train and dispatch workers throughout the 34 states that will have federally run marketplaces. The 16 states that run their own marketplaces fund their own navigator programs.
As employees of universities, social service agencies, hospitals, advocacy groups, private businesses and other organizations, navigators will work with consumers to answer questions and provide unbiased information that allows people to choose health plans that fit their needs. By law, navigators cannot receive any financial compensation from insurers.
Originally, the navigator program was only supposed to get $54 million. The extra $13 million came in a “surprise move,” The Hill reports:
HHS had initially said navigators would receive $54 million in grants, but officials said they pulled an extra $13 million from the healthcare law’s prevention fund to help broaden the reach of the program. …
Timothy Jost, a law professor at Washington and Lee University and a supporter of the healthcare law, said the extra funding provided by HHS is helpful but still falls short of what some states are spending on their outreach efforts.
“It’s nice to have a little more money, because these people have an awfully big job ahead of them,” Jost said. “But it’s still not what’s needed.”
Ironically, as both The Hill and John Fund point out, the extra cash comes from a fund that is supposed to be used for disease prevention. Remember when the sequester’s cuts were supposed to damage public health, and the White House was powerless to shift funds around to address priorities? When it comes to addressing the President’s priorities, it’s amazing to see how flexible and innovative the Obama administration can be, huh?
By the way, who gets this extra largesse? Three guesses, emphasis mine:
Groups receiving navigator funds include United Way programs, the Urban League, Mental Health America, the National Hispanic Council on Aging, and various universities and Planned Parenthood groups.
Remember when Barack Obama told Planned Parenthood “God bless you“? If God won’t, then Obama will — with our money.