The Wayne State University Physician Group in Detroit has received CAC designation and will deploy a team of financial counselors to guide people through the enrollment process, said Cathy Barrett, who oversees the group's revenue-cycle management. It is also fielding questions from other organizations, such as public libraries, that are receiving ACA inquiries from confused consumers. The multispecialty physician group is the only CAC in the Detroit area, which Barrett attributed to a lack of information among provider groups.
In other Republican-led states, some providers have been discouraged from participating in the navigator or CAC programs. In Ohio, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center was awarded a $124,419 navigator grant. But the hospital returned the funds because of a new state law that prohibits groups that receive insurance payments from serving as navigators.
Ohio is not alone in its restrictions. Other states such as Texas, Georgia and Florida have established rules limiting federal and private efforts to help consumers enroll in exchange plans. They have cited various reasons such as conflict of interest, lack of training, and the risk of fraud and privacy violations.
But Sabrina Corlette, a senior research fellow at the Georgetown Health Policy Institute, said such state efforts are intended to suppress enrollment. “Some of that seems so egregious,” she said, noting that the navigator program has clear provisions to protect against conflict of interest. The state restrictions could be having a chilling effect on provider participation. “Hospitals don't want to make political enemies,” Corlette said.
Still, some systems are engaging in their own exchange outreach efforts. At CHE Trinity Health, more than 87,000 employees in 21 states are helping to educate their friends and relatives. The system also has information available on its website, and is funding a multimedia campaign in some of its markets.
At 291-bed Mercy Hospital and Medical Center in Chicago, which received a CMS navigator grant, the hospital has hired eight people who will host educational events at its satellite campuses starting Oct. 1. About 38% of Mercy's patients currently are on Medicaid, and another 3% to 4% are self-pay, said Connie Murphy, vice president of marketing and development.
“It's very important for us to grow our volume—and it's just good for our community,” Murphy said.
Follow Beth Kutscher on Twitter: @MHbkutscher