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Thursday, July 24, 2014
Southwest Louisiana ,
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Program to help people navigate new exchanges

Last Modified: Monday, August 26, 2013 10:57 AM

By Lance Traweek / American Press

With the health insurance marketplace enrollment opening in October, the Southwest Louisiana Area Health Education Center (AHEC) has been awarded a $1.1 million federal grant to fund “navigators,” who will help educate the uninsured across the state.

The award was part of $67 million in grants, which were given to 105 groups nationwide. Four Louisiana organizations will split $1.8 million in grants — with the SWLA AHEC getting the largest amount.

With nearly 400,000 uninsured and under-insured Louisianians, the goal of the navigators will be to raise awareness and provide education, said director Brian Burton.

“As they are entering the marketplace for the first time and trying to figure out their options, our navigators will be a resource for them to answer questions and to help them pick the insurance plan that best works for them,” Burton said. “Our goal is to get out there and help people make the most informed decision that they can make with information that is not based on rumors, fear or propaganda.”

He said the exchange will give those eligible “better control” and “more choices,” without having to worry about any “hidden agendas.”

“We are quite excited that this statewide project will be run out of Lake Charles,” Burton said. “We have a long history of doing both community outreach and providing health education information through previous programs.”

The SWLA AHEC is in the process of hiring and training navigators for the yearlong project. The non-profit will focus on community outreach through presentations at community centers and social service organizations.

Open enrollment will go from October to the end of December, and benefits will begin in January.

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