- As open enrollment for 2017 approaches in less than two months, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has announced its continued support for enrollment assistance with $63 million in Navigator grant awards to organizations around the U.S.
- The awards are used to provide local, in-person support from trained individuals to consumers in need of guidance in shopping for and purchasing marketplace health plans.
- This year's grants are going to 96 returning organizations and two new organizations in Hawaii.
The government's enrollment push grows increasingly critical as the remaining uninsured become more difficult to reach and as critics of the ACA point toward the markedly lower than predicted marketplace enrollment, noting that although analysts projected three years ago that 24 million people would have enrolled in ACA plans by now, the current tally is only 11.1 million.
While there appear to be numerous contributing factors for the shortfall, that doesn't take the pressure off enrollment efforts. CMS also recently outlined its stepped-up strategies to enroll more young adults in an attempt to improve not only enrollment numbers but also stabilize the risk pool. Enrolling more healthier "young invincibles" is wildly believed to help stabilize the marketplaces by offsetting the costs of older, sicker individuals.
For the Navigator grants, the CMS noted this marks the second year of a three-year funding cycle for the program's returning grantees, who had to apply for a full 36-month project period. The CMS releases their funding in 12-month increments as it assesses their performance.