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Florida Navigator Program Gets $1.3M To Continue Marketplace Enrollment

A strawberry blonde hair woman helps a brunette woman sign up for health insurance on a laptop.
Daylina Miller
WUSF Public Media
Jodi Ray, director of Florida Covering Kids and Families, helps Brittany Wren enroll in a marketplace plan for 2019.

A group that helps Floridians sign up for health insurance on the federal marketplace received a $1.3 million grant to continue their work.

Florida Covering Kids & Families was again the only Florida group selected to receive the navigator grant from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The grant is $1.3 million each year f0r two years.

The group, a nonprofit initiative of The Lawton and Rhea Chiles Center for Healthy Mothers and Babies, will work with the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, the Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida, the Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida on enrolling residents, Family Health Care Foundation and Primary Care Access Network.

Navigators under the Affordable Care Act helped over 62,000 Floridians learn about their insurance options and get enrolled in plans over the past year.

Florida has more enrollees than anywhere else at nearly 1.8 million.

Jodi Ray, the director of Florida Covering Kids and Families, said at the program's height, they got almost $6 million a year. That's been slashed by 85% the last two years. They got $1.25 million last year.

"It's enough to let us continue what we did last year,” Ray said. “Obviously, it doesn't give us the ability to provide the level of services that are needed across the state of Florida, but it will allow us to continue to serve Floridians through open enrollment and the special enrollment periods.”

Ray said help is provided both in person and through virtual appointments.  

“Navigators do not sell plans,” Ray said. “We don't have a stake in the game in terms of what plans people pick or what insurance providers they pick because we don't get commissions off of this. We are unbiased, and it's free help, and we want people to feel good and confident about the choices they're making.”

The navigators can deliver some good news to enrollees this year: The state announced last week that there will be no rate increases in Obamacare insurance plans sold on the exchange in 2020. Open enrollment begins Nov. 1.

Make an appointment with a navigator here.

I took my first photography class when I was 11. My stepmom begged a local group to let me into the adults-only class, and armed with a 35 mm disposable camera, I started my journey toward multimedia journalism.
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