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Amy Umble is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star

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Feds announce health navigator grants

The federal Department of Health and Human Services today announced grant awards to state groups to train “health navigators” who will help people understand the provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

The navigators are expected to help Virginians understand the new health insurance marketplace — that’s a federally-run program through which people can buy private health insurance. Enrollment will start in October, with coverage to start in January. Navigators will also help explain the tax credits and subsidies that will be available to help some people, depending on income, pay for those health insurance plans.

Two Virginia groups, the Virginia Poverty Law Center and Advanced Patient Advocacy, will receive $1.8 million total from the federal government. The VPLC will get about $1.3 million of that total, and plans to work with a statewide group of nine legal services programs.

Advanced Patient Advocacy plans to work with hospitals and medical centers to identify uninsured patients and provide them information on signing up for insurance through the federal health insurance  marketplace.

“Navigators will be among the many resources available to help Virginia consumers understand their coverage options in the marketplace,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a press release. “A network of volunteers on the ground in every state – health care providers, business leaders, faith leaders, community groups, advocates, and local elected officials – can help spread the word and encourage their neighbors to get enrolled.”

 

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