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Helping Hands: A Look at State Consumer Assistance Programs under the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) creates several programs to provide outreach and enrollment assistance to individuals, families, and small businesses seeking to obtain health insurance coverage through the coverage expansions that will take effect in January 2014. Two key programs, the Navigator program and the In-Person Assister (IPA) program, are taking shape as the October 1st open enrollment deadline arrives. To date, 15 states operating a State-based Marketplace and three states engaging in a Consumer Assistance Partnership Marketplace have awarded Navigator and IPA grants. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has also awarded Navigator grants in states opting for a Federally-facilitated Marketplace. This brief identifies the states that have awarded assister grants, highlights key differences in how these programs are funded and structured, and discusses some of the challenges these enrollment assisters are facing as they prepare to begin helping consumers.