New Jersey DOBI announces grant opportunity for navigators to help w/enrollment

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via the New Jersey Dept. of Banking & Insurance:

  • Open Enrollment Period at Get Covered New Jersey Begins November 1, 2022
  • Historic Levels of Financial Help Remain Available for the Upcoming Year, Following Federal Inflation Reduction Act Signing 

TRENTON — The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance today announced it is accepting applications for community organizations to serve as Navigators to assist residents with health insurance enrollment for the upcoming Open Enrollment Period and during 2023. The department is making available a total of $5 million in grant funding for Navigators in an effort to ensure enrollment assistance is available in the community for residents seeking coverage through Get Covered New Jersey, the state’s official health insurance marketplace, during the Open Enrollment Period that starts November 1, 2022 and throughout the year.

“The recent signing of the Inflation Reduction Act means historic levels of state and federal financial help will remain available to New Jerseyans for the upcoming year to lower the cost of health insurance. Navigators will be key to ensuring residents take advantage of this generous financial help while assisting them in enrolling in a quality, affordable health plan that best meets their needs,” said Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride. “We are pleased to increase our investment in the program this year. The department encourages community organizations to apply to become a part of our administration’s effort to improve access to health coverage and care.”

Navigator grants support the work of organizations that conduct public education activities and offer free and impartial assistance to consumers to shop for and enroll in coverage on the Marketplace, and help them apply for financial help.

The Murphy Administration has significantly increased its investment in Navigators since the State began operating the Navigator program in 2019 and has taken numerous actions to improve access to health coverage. The state began operating as a State-Based Marketplace on November 1, 2020 under a law signed by Governor Phil Murphy and, in addition to federal tax credits available through the Affordable Care Act, began offering state-level subsidies to further lower health plan costs. 

During the inaugural Get Covered New Jersey Open Enrollment Period in 2020, enrollment increased by nearly 10 percent over the previous open enrollment. In its second year, enrollment increased by 20 percent with a total of 324,266 New Jersey residents signing up for coverage – a record high for New Jersey.

The record number of signups followed policy actions at the state and federal levels to significantly increase and expand financial help and to increase access to coverage. The federal American Rescue Plan Act provided historic levels of financial help to millions of Americans purchasing coverage on the nation’s marketplaces and allowed New Jersey to increase the amount of state subsidies, called New Jersey Health Plan Savings, available to eligible consumers and to extend the state savings to residents at higher income levels for the first time last year.

Due to the increased subsidies, New Jerseyans enrolled in coverage at Get Covered New Jersey received unprecedented levels of financial help during the last Open Enrollment Period, with an average savings of $545 per person each month, or $6,540 a year, compared to $485 a month a year prior. As a result of the federal Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law by President Biden on August 16th, the expanded financial help remains in place. Nine in 10 people enrolling now qualify for financial help, and many can find a plan for $10 a month or less. 

All Marketplace programs are required to operate and fund a Navigator program. To be eligible for funding through the grant program, organizations must demonstrate that they comply with the regulatory requirements outlined by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the department’s requirements in the Request for Applications. Current Navigators and organizations seeking to become Navigators will have the opportunity to apply for funding to serve for the 2022-2023 year to support enrollment assistance.

All assisters, inclusive of Navigators, Certified Application Counselors, and Brokers, will be required to complete state training and certification to assist consumers with health insurance enrollment on the state Marketplace. The $5 million grant program will be funded by the user fees that support the department’s operation of the State-Based Marketplace.

Grantee activities will include outreach and education year-round for 2023 coverage, including in advance of and during the Open Enrollment Period that will run from November 1, 2022 until January 31, 2023. Navigators also assist consumers who are eligible to enroll in coverage outside of Open Enrollment, through Special Enrollment Periods or as a result of meeting certain income guidelines, throughout the year.

A Request for Applications for funding for the New Jersey State Navigator Program was released today. Organizations have until September 19th to apply.