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home : news : regional July 24, 2014

Navigator grants awarded to 2 NH groups

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Bi-State Primary Care Association were awarded federal navigator grants Thursday to help people sign up for insurance under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul law.

The organizations are among 105 across the country that will receive a total of $67 million. Bi-State Primary Care, which represents a dozen community health centers, will get $434,839, while Planned Parenthood will get $145,161. Navigators will be trained to provide information to consumers about health insurance, the new online insurance marketplaces and public programs such as Medicaid.

The new markets, or exchanges, will offer individuals a choice of private health plans resembling what workers at large companies already get. The government will help many middle-class households pay their premiums, while low-income people will be referred to safety-net programs for which they might qualify.

Enrollment starts Oct. 1 with coverage taking effect Jan. 1. After that, virtually everyone in the country will be required by law to have health insurance or face fines.

New Hampshire opted not to run its own online markets, but Gov. Maggie Hassan's administration has tried to have the state partner with the federal government to manage health plans and provide consumer assistance. Republicans have tried to block the second partnership, leaving a $5 million grant intended for New Hampshire-specific education and outreach in limbo.

After Republicans prevented the state Insurance Department from accepting the money, a quasi-governmental group that runs the state's high risk insurance pool decided to apply for the funding instead. That application remains pending.

Unlike that funding, the state had no role in the selection of the navigator grant award winners. According to federal officials, Bi-State Primary Care will use the money to leverage its experience with community partners and the uninsured to build a statewide outreach initiative. Planned Parenthood will assist its patients and other consumers primarily in Hillsborough, Rockingham, Graft, Cheshire and Sullivan counties.

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