On Tuesday, the federal government announced it will grant $54 million to organizations, or “navigators”, in 33 states to help healthcare consumers navigate their benefits exchange next year.
The announcement was released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.
The funding will go directly toward training customer service staff to help people people who are currently uninsured shop for and purchase insurance. Navigators are hospitals, county health agencies, religious groups and municipal chambers of commerce, Kaiser Health News explained.
The total grant money will be divided between groups in 33 states based on their number of uninsured residents. Florida, which has roughly 3.5 million residents without healthcare coverage, will receive nearly $6 million, the second highest amount among the recipient states.
Some health exchange professionals believe the funding is not enough and worry states will not have adequate resources to offer effective and reliable customer service.
“There’s no way that’s enough money to make a difference,” John Poelman of Leavitt Partners told KHN. Poelman’s firm is helping many state agencies set up local benefits exchanges.
“It’s not enough to enroll tens of millions of uninsured into coverage,” said Stan Dorn, a senior fellow at Urban Institute. Dorn called the grant a “drop in the bucket.”