Arkansas health agency OKs call for 'navigator' contract

A state agency will solicit bids Monday for contracts to help Arkansans enroll in coverage offered through the state's health insurance exchange, the agency's board decided Friday.

In approving the solicitation in a phone conference, the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace board of directors didn't say how many outreach workers, known as navigators, they hope to employ under the contracts. But a marketplace spokesman has said the agency will likely seek to have 15, the same number that were employed under a previous contract.

The marketplace operates an insurance exchange for small businesses and promotes enrollment in the state's federally operated exchange for individual consumers. Open enrollment through the individual exchange, accessible through healthcare.gov, runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act requires exchanges to have navigator programs. Money for the Arkansas navigators comes from a fee, equal to 3 percent of the premiums for plans sold on the exchange, that the marketplace collects from insurers.

Under an earlier contract, the marketplace paid Boston-based Public Consulting Group $552,000 to provide 15 navigators from Oct. 1 through June 30. The consulting firm subcontracted the work to Enroll the Ridge in Jonesboro and Wrightsville-based Future Builders.

The consulting firm provided the initial money needed to hire the organizations and was then reimbursed by the marketplace after the agency began collecting the fee in December. The firm didn't charge a fee for handling the contracts.

Following a recommendation from its consumer assistance committee, the board didn't specify a budget for the new contracts. The marketplace hopes to award the contracts by Sept. 15 and to have them signed by Oct. 1.

Metro on 07/15/2017

Log in to comment