On Monday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released Navigator grant recipients for the 2014 open enrollment period. In total, $60 million dollars were awarded to 90 organizations in the 27 states with Federally-facilitated Marketplaces and the seven states with Partnership Marketplaces. While the majority of awards went to the same grant recipients as 2013, there are also many new grantees for 2014. In particular, HHS selected new recipients based on their requirement that all Marketplaces must have at least one Navigator entity that is a community and consumer-focused nonprofit. Additionally, HHS chose new grantees who demonstrated a strong capacity to reach specific, hard-to-reach populations.

We welcome the 2014 grant recipient decisions because of their ability to help enrich the enrollment experience for consumers in several ways. First, awarding 2014 grants to many of the 2013 recipients will provide consumers with consistency and familiarity in Navigator programs. Newly-enrolled consumers can now turn to the same Navigators they worked with last year for assistance with renewing or switching their coverage. In addition, selecting new Navigator recipients who are uniquely-positioned to reach populations with high numbers of uninsured consumers will help ensure the remaining uninsured are aware of their coverage options and financial assistance opportunities.

We would also like to acknowledge the organizations who served as Navigators last year but will not participate in this year’s efforts. We know they worked tirelessly to bring the ACA to their communities, many of them in unique and creative ways. We hope they will continue to bring their dedication and new ideas to the table by participating in the broader outreach and education efforts in their states. To learn about the many innovative outreach, education and enrollment strategies employed by state-based consumer health advocates during the first open enrollment period, see our report: Connecting Consumers to Coverage: Mobilizing for Enrollment.

Overall, we feel the combination of new and old grant recipients will provide for a robust and effective enrollment assistance system during the next open enrollment period. By allowing both the newly-enrolled and remaining uninsured to learn about their options from community members they know and trust, they will be better able to enroll in or renew meaningful, affordable coverage.