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Health Centers and Primary Care Associations Receive Historic Navigator Funding Awards

On August 27, 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration announced $80 million in funding to expand the number of organizations to help people enroll in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Known as “Navigator” organizations, they have specially trained staff who can help walk people through the often confusing process of signing up for federally funded health coverage.

Historic investment by the government to help consumers sign up for health coverage

This historically high level of funding for CMS’s Navigator program is being awarded to 60 organizations in the 30 states with a federally facilitated marketplace ( . These awardees and sub-awardees will train and certify more than 1,500 Navigators to help uninsured consumers find affordable and comprehensive health coverage.

The awards are structured as Cooperative Agreements and were awarded for a 36-month period of performance, which runs through August 26, 2024.

Community Health Centers are effective at enrolling people in health coverage

Among the organizations that received Navigator awards are seven (8) Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) – including one FQHC Look-Alike – and nine (9) Primary Care Associations (PCAs). These 17 organizations received over $18 million in funding to hire Navigators in order to conduct outreach and enrollment activities.

“Navigators are an integral component of our healthcare system and connecting people to coverage,” said Ollie Idowu, President and CEO with the Illinois Primary Health Care Association (IPHCA). IPHCA received its first Navigator grant and was awarded $3.2 million in funding. The PCA plans to partner with 37 health centers across the state.

Health centers play a critical role in reaching out and enrolling people in health coverage, and that has especially been the case during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, health centers provided nearly 3.7 million assists to people seeking health insurance coverage. Over 2.5 million Americans signed up for new health insurance coverage through and State-based Marketplaces during the 2021 Marketplace SEP as of July 31, 2021.

To do this work, health centers employed over 4,200 eligibility assistance workers in 2020 in addition to over 2,000 outreach workers. This workforce is part of the nearly 24,000 health center staff that provide enabling services such as community outreach, health education, transportation, interpretation, case management, and insurance enrollment (i.e., Navigators, Certified Application Counselors, and more).

This enabling services workforce – which in addition to outreach and enrollment staff includes Community Health Workers (CHWs) – plays a critical role in managing population health and addressing social determinants of health and health inequities.

“For too long, vast disparities and inequalities have plagued our healthcare system. As a result, communities throughout our country have suffered the consequences through higher uninsured rates, higher rates of chronic diseases like hypertension and diabetes, and other preventable conditions.

Ollie Idowu, President and CEO with the Illinois Primary Health Care Association

“IPHCA is proud to receive this CMS funding and play an important role in rooting out those deep-seated inequities by connecting individuals with the health coverage they need and deserve, regardless of race, ethnicity, or zip code,” said Idowu.

17 Primary Care Associations and Community Health Centers received grant awards

NACHC worked closely with CMS and the Centers for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) to promote the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Navigator to our PCA and health center member organizations.

Click Here for the Full List of 2021 CMS Navigator Cooperative Agreement Awardees. Below is the list of the 17 PCAs and Health Centers that received awards:

  • Arizona Association of Community Health Centers (AACHC)/Arizona Alliance for Community Health Centers
  • Community Care Network of Kansas (Formerly Kansas Assoc. For Medically Underserved)
  • Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas
  • El Centro Del Barrio, d.b.a. CentroMed (Texas)
  • Equitas Health (Ohio)
  • Georgia Association for Primary Health Care, Inc. 
  • Health Center Association of Nebraska
  • Illinois Primary Health Care Association
  • Lifespring, Inc., d.b.a. LifeSpring Health Systems (Indiana)
  • Marillac Community Health Centers (Louisiana)
  • Missouri Coalition for Primary Health Care
  • Montana Primary Care Association Inc.
  • South Carolina Primary Health Care Association
  • Southeast Community Mental Health Center, Inc. (Ohio)
  • Southwest Utah Community Health Center, Inc., d.b.a. Family Healthcare 
  • Swope Health Services (Missouri)
  • Westside Family Healthcare, Inc. (Delaware)