The Obama administration is announcing the release of $67 million in federal funds for individuals and groups such as Planned Parenthood to help Americans navigate ObamaCare.
The announcement was made Thursday by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and stated the grant money, which is purportedly $13 million more than originally set aside, will go to so-called “navigators” to help people “make sense” of coverage options and "go shopping" for coverage plans under the president’s new heath care law
The money is going to 105 grantees in the 34 states that will have federally funded market places in which Americans can buy insurance starting Oct. 1.
The country’s 16 other states will have their own exchanges and outreach programs.
The additional millions are coming from the health care law’s prevention programs, according to The Hill newspaper.
The navigators will be trained and must present “unbiased information” about coverage choices in a “culturally competent” manner, Sebelius said in announcing the grant winners.
Though the navigators will not enroll applicants, critics of the program have raised concerns about the potential for unscrupulous navigators stealing Americans’ identification information.
In response, HHS said on Thursday that the navigators must be trained and certified and would face federal criminal penalties for violating privacy and fraud statutes.
In addition to the navigators, the administration already has a website and a 24-hour call center to answer questions about policy options. The call center will answer questions in 150 different languages, and the administration is also partnering with libraries, health centers and other community-based operations to help answer questions about enrollment.
“Navigators will be among the many resources available to help consumers understand their coverage options in the marketplace,” Sebelius also said. “Health care providers, business leaders, faith leaders, community groups, advocates and local elected officials … can help spread the world and encourage their neighbors to get enrolled.”
Among the other groups and individuals receiving the money are AIDS Alabama Inc., United Way of Anchorage and the University of South Florida.