The State is preparing to award grants in early July to community based entities who will employ helpers to educate consumers about their new health care options under the Affordable Care Act and to assist people in enrolling in the new Medicaid expansion and Health Insurance Marketplace when open enrollment begins on October 1. These helpers will be called In Person Counselors (IPCs); however, there will also be other enrollment "helpers" called Navigators and Certified Application Counselors. The different names just refer to how the assister is funded; all of the assisters will help people choose and enroll in coverage.
In order to train these assisters, the State has partnered with the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health to develop a curriculum and training program to begin by the end of July and go through the middle of September. The curriculum will consist of both online and in person learning modules. The training will be ongoing and will consist of a testing and certification process as required under state law. There will be continuing education and a backup technical assistance call center for individual questions.
In addition to the state training, IPCs and Navigators will also take a federal online Navigator training by the fall which will inform them about using the federal Marketplace portal. This is important, because all assisters in Illinois must be familiar with both the state Medicaid system as well as the federal Marketplace system since Illinois has chosen to be a partnership state and administer its health care reform programs jointly for the first year with the federal government. We are waiting on federal guidance regarding the Certified Application Counselors' training requirements.
Many other community based providers will help their clients understand and access health care coverage, even if they aren't designated "assisters" or "Navigators." These front line workers also need information on the ACA but may not need as intensive a training program as the certified assisters. There are training materials and presentations available to these organizations/ entities throughout the state including the Starting Strong Webinar Series and other events on the Illinois Health Matters events page.
Health & Disability Advocates