September 12, 2013

Groups race to hire, train Obamacare guides

Deploying the guides for the uninsured is one the first hurdles for the new health system as it transitions from a abstract political debate in Washington to a real-life process in communities.

The Associated Press

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Jacqueline Saulsberry, a service coordinator at the Illinois Eye Institute, gathers information from patient Shameka Lewis-Coolidge during an appointment in Chicago. The institute, which will help with Obamacare enrollment in the Chicago area, plans to train a dozen staffers for the task.

AP

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In Mississippi, workers will go into rural areas without Internet access to help people with the enrollment and policy-shopping process, which is done online.

"When Oct. 1 rolls around, we're going to be ready to rock 'n' roll," said the Rev. Michael O. Minor of Oak Hill Baptist Church in Hernando, Miss.

In 17 states, navigators have additional hoops to jump through because of new state laws affecting the federal health care law, such as required background checks for the workers.

Republican members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce have also called on some of the assisting groups to explain how consumers will be protected when they speak with a navigator. The Republicans' letter sets a Sept. 13 deadline for the groups to produce documents.

"This request threw us for a loop quite honestly," said Plese of the Arizona health center group. "We haven't even drawn down any funds from the grant."

Will there be enough time for the hiring and training?

"It has to be enough time," said Laura Goodhue, executive director of Florida CHAIN, a consumer health group involved in the training. "We have to do what we have to do."

 

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