September 1, 2020
Media Contact: Jody Young | 561-704-3912 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Jodi Ray, Director of Florida Covering Kids & Families,(FL-CKF), a community and consumer-focused nonprofit initiative of The Chiles Center, based in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida, announced that her organization has received a $1.6 million dollar award from the US Health and Human Service Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services for an eighth year of Affordable Care Act enrollment and outreach programs, for the current project year beginning this fall through August 2021.
Florida once again achieved the greatest number of Health Insurance Marketplace enrollments in the United States during last year’s 7th Open Enrollment season, (OE7) exceeding the most recent previous year’s results by nearly 10%, with 1.9 million Floridians becoming covered under Marketplace plans.
The total award this year is a slight increase over last year’s $1.3 million and will allow the consortium to expand its team by welcoming back two new Covering Florida consortium partners offering Navigator support in the Northwest portion of the state. Covering Florida welcomes back the Big Bend Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) team, covering Washington, Holmes, Jackson, Franklin, Calhoun, Liberty, Gadsden, Gulf, Leon, Wakulla, Madison, Jefferson, Bay and Taylor counties, and the Suwannee River AHEC, which will provide assistance in Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Suwannee and Union counties.
In-person, online and telephonic assistance will allow the Covering Florida consortium to again cover the anticipated high demand for statewide enrollment services during OE8, particularly during the COVID pandemic. Although we would prefer to have the ability to offer more in-person assistance, as research and experience shows that consumers are twice as likely to successfully enroll having in-person assistance as those who have attempted online without help. In addition, historically underserved communities have relied more on in-person assistance. Any Florida resident impacted by Covid with questions about available coverage should contact our office or local partners for the latest available options in their areas.
Open Enrollment begins on November 1st this year and continues until December 15th for those needing coverage beginning January 1st, 2021. The 2021 Open Enrollment window will again be limited this year to six-weeks, beginning November 1 until December 15th, so consumers need to once again be made aware of the early deadline.
Ray stated “Our network of Navigators is recognized nationally for the service they provide to the communities across the state of Florida, for their high-quality work and for the amazing number of consumers who have been helped in gaining coverage for the last several years. Now more than ever, due to the acute needs related to the pandemic, our Navigators make an impactful difference in the lives of Floridians, and rest assured, we will continue our hard work and make best efforts on informing the public and helping them gain the coverage they deserve and access to the healthcare they need. Our services, as always are offered free of charge to Floridians and we need to get that information out to our normal audience as well as the countless residents who have been negatively impacted by the economics of Covid-19.”
Ray continued, “Our Navigators not only do outreach and sign-ups, but we help consumers update their accounts, resolve data matching issues, understand their coverage options and how to use the coverage, file appeals and exemptions, inform them on the impact of unpaid premiums, and connect them to health care providers and community resources. Because of the decreased resources for outreach and marketing we will need more help from the communities and from the media to make sure the Open Enrollment window and deadlines are widely shared and publicized.”
FL-CKF and its consortium partners have been providing Navigator services throughout the state of Florida since the first Open Enrollment period in 2013. The following partners comprise the 2020-2021 USF statewide consortium and are collectively known as "Covering Florida":
Health Planning Council of Northeast Florida– Serving Baker, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Nassau, St. Johns, and Volusia counties.
Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida– Serving Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota counties.
Primary Care Access Network– Serving Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.
Epilepsy Florida – Serving Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties.
Family Healthcare Foundation – Serving Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and Polk counties
Big Bend Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) - Serving Bay, Calhoun, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Liberty, Leon, Madison, Taylor, Wakulla and Washington counties.
Suwannee River AHEC, - Serving Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Marion, Putnam, Suwannee and Union counties.
University of South Florida Navigators– Serving Brevard, Citrus, Escambia, Hernando, Indian River, Martin, Okaloosa, Okeechobee, St. Lucie, Santa Rosa, Sumter and Walton counties
Covering Florida is frequently called upon as an expert in health insurance coverage and health literacy for its ability to reach out to diverse audiences and educate consumers about health insurance coverage and utilization including options under the Affordable Care Act, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and Medicaid. Covering Florida reaches consumers through partner organizations and collaborates with hundreds of organizations, many of which provide direct service to thousands of health care consumers. The organization focuses largely on advocating for and increasing access to care and services via enrollment for individuals with limited English proficiency, individuals with disabilities, populations underserved in the current private health insurance market, and vulnerable populations by employing multi-lingual Navigators, producing brochures in multiple languages, conducting workshops, and providing interviews in various languages.
For free in-person, telephone or virtual Navigator assistance state-wide visit
http://www.coveringflorida.org/ or call (877) 813-9115
The project described was supported by Funding Opportunity Number NAVCA190357-02-00 from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The contents provided are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of HHS or any of its agencies.