Obamacare Navigator Training Lags as Deadline Nears

Tuesday, 06 Aug 2013 10:37 AM

By Courtney Coren

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The government already is cutting the training for healthcare "navigators" — people who will guide consumers through the online Obamacare signup process — just to get the system up and running by its Oct. 1 deadline.

Money to hire the "navigators" won't be available for about two weeks, leaving little time left until enrollment, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The federal government is running all or part of the exchange programs in 34 states.

Some $54 million for training is expected to be announced Aug. 15. That will leave only 32 business days to get thousands of people hired and trained to begin helping consumers find the kind of coverage they need and can afford by Oct. 1.

"It's definitely a tight timeline, and there's a lot to do before Oct. 1," said Jen Bersdale, executive director of Missouri Healthcare for All, a nonprofit advocacy group working to coordinate Obamacare outreach activities in the state. "I imagine some people will be working overtime to do it."

Training for navigators, originally 30 hours, has been cut to 20 hours in a race to meet the exchange-opening deadline.

The administration insisted that the navigators would be prepared to offer the kind of enrollment help that uninsured consumers have been told to expect.

"We view training as an ongoing process, and will continue to offer refresher training  . . . throughout the six-month open-enrollment period as we respond to consumers' needs," Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services, told the Journal.

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