Tech Tuesday: Technology Will Deliver Most Navigator and Assister Training

As the federal government and states work toward developing training for navigators and assisters, it is likely that much of it will be web-based. Using technology to deliver training is certainly cost-effective. It enables navigator entities to get new staff trained without waiting for the next scheduled training, and allows states to making training easily accessible to organizations and individuals who plan to become certified application counselors.

As I noted in a blog earlier this month, training for navigators and assisters is not a one-shot deal. But it certainly is a big deal. Navigators and assisters will be front-line troubleshooters. In the end, they will need to know more than call center staff. Experience in assisting consumers in qualifying for Medicaid and CHIP has taught us a lot about what navigators and assisters need to know. And there’s lots of new stuff to master:

  • New basis for determining household size and counting income based on Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI)
  • New verification procedures and reasonable compatibility standards
  • How tax credits work to subsidize the purchase of a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) through the new health insurance marketplaces
  • The tax implications of inaccurate projection of income in paying for coverage with advanced premium tax credits (APTCs)

I could go on, but you get the picture. Robust, comprehensive training will be critical to the success of navigators and assisters. To this end, my colleagues at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Families USA, Enroll America, the National Health Law Program (NHeLP), and the Center for Health Insurance Reforms (our sister center at the Georgetown Health Policy Institute), put our heads together to brainstorm a comprehensive training outline for navigators and assisters.

There are actually two lists. The first is a comprehensive list that we have offered to federal and state based exchanges. The second is a supplemental list of training that states where there will be a federally-facilitated marketplace may want to use to guide the development of additional training on state-specific information that may not be provided in the federal navigator training.

The process of putting together these outlines brought home the fact that training must be an ongoing process. Every time we look at the outline again, we think of something we could add. But in the end, training can only cover so much ground. We are hopeful that states and stakeholders will look for ways to bring navigators and assisters together to share best practices and augment web-based training. Note that I didn’t just say states. We know that some states will not be actively engaged in navigator and assister training and support, and that resources at the federal level may not be available to convene navigators and assisters. In those states, we encourage foundations, health policy entities, community-based organizations, health care provider groups or others to take the lead in bringing assisters together. Coordinating activities and learning from each other will add value and enhance the important work of consumer assisters.

[Related Content: Please see the Say Ahhh! Tech Tuesday blog series for more blogs on this topic.]

Tricia Brooks
Tricia Brooks is a Senior Fellow at the Center for Children and Families