The federal government is making available up to $54 million in grant funds to support the hiring of “Navigators” within state health insurance exchanges to aid consumers as they compare and select a health insurance benefits package.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the funding opportunity, which is available to states with a federally built or state partnership exchange. Funds are available for eligible self-employed individuals or private and public entities applying to provide Navigator services.

Each exchange would have at least one Navigator from a community and consumer-focused not-for-profit entity. Each exchange also would have at least one Navigator from another entity, such as trade associations; commercial fishing, ranching, farming organizations; chambers of commerce; unions; partners of the Small Business Administration; tribal organizations; and state or local human services agencies, among other entities.

Navigators are prohibited from receiving any direct or indirect consideration from a health insurance issuer connected to enrollment of individuals in exchange qualified health plans, according to the funding announcement. Applications for grant funding are due on June 7 with more information available here.

CMS recently published a proposed rule to govern the conduct of Navigators and other non-Navigator assistance personnel.

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