BOSTON – Thursday, September 8, 2016 –The Massachusetts Health Connector today announced 15 community groups from around Massachusetts have been selected as Navigators, using their experience and knowledge to help people without coverage sign up for insurance during Open Enrollment and throughout the year.

Open Enrollment starts November 1 and runs through January 31, 2017, and is the time of year when anyone who does not have health insurance can sign up for coverage through the Health Connector, and those with existing coverage can consider a new plan for the next year. The Health Connector is the state’s health insurance Exchange, and is the only outlet for people to buy a commercial health plan and receive financial assistance to help pay for it.

“Having health insurance means you can get the care you need and pay less for it, particularly if you qualify for the ConnectorCare program, which has low premiums and co-pays, and no deductible,” said Louis Gutierrez, the Executive Director of the Massachusetts Health Connector. “Navigators can help us find uninsured people in their neighborhoods, and help those people apply for coverage and pick the best plan for their family.”

Navigators are community organizations that help uninsured people complete an application and select a plan, and they can also assist currently-insured people shop and make sure they are in the right plan for 2017. The Health Connector’s network of Navigators will focus on outreach and assistance in areas across the state with higher rates of uninsured residents, working to get them into coverage.

The Navigator program is mandated by the Affordable Care Act, and is part of a network of assisters that includes more than 1,600 Certified Assistance Counselors, who are predominantly at health-care provider locations (a full list of assisters can be found at the Health Connector’s website). Last year, Navigators helped more than 36,000 people sign up for insurance or maintain their coverage.

This is the fourth year of the Navigator program, and for the first time organizations have been awarded Navigator status for two years, with the second year contingent on available state funding. The Health Connector awarded the following grants for the 2016-18 program:

Boston Public Health Commission, $136,279

The Boston Public Health Commission returns for a fourth year as a Navigator, and will deliver a comprehensive outreach strategy that includes providing mobile Navigators throughout the Boston to reach people where they live and work. BPHC will also emphasize assistance to vulnerable populations, including immigrants, individuals with limited English capacity, and low-income residents. Some unique approaches to outreach include a flyering program in different census tracks in East Boston and Dorchester neighborhoods.

Language Capacity: Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, French, Cape Verdean Creole

Cambridge Economic Opportunity Council, $88,550

The Cambridge Economic Opportunity Council is returning for its third year as a Navigator and will target people through its Certified Volunteer Income Tax preparation program, and is creating a one-stop program that will allow individuals to sign up for health insurance, SNAP and other public benefits in one meeting. This year, they plan to focus their outreach on the remaining uninsured through targeted flyering campaigns and small community events in Cambridge and surrounding communities.

Language Capacity: Amharic, Farsi, Haitian Creole, Spanish

Caring Health Center (Springfield), $182,910

Caring Health Center is returning for a fourth year as a Navigator and will emphasize assistance to vulnerable populations, including immigrants, individuals with limited English capacity, and low-income residents in Springfield. They plan to conduct outreach beyond their health center at community and cultural events throughout the year. This year, they have entered into a partnership with local and state police, which serves as a key link to identifying individuals in need of health insurance.

Language Capacity: Spanish

Community Action Committee of Cape Cod & Islands, $96,959

The Community Action Committee of Cape Cod & Islands takes a comprehensive approach to using community partnerships as part of its outreach, including working with Career Opportunity Centers. They plan to expand their outreach to seasonally-employed individuals on the Cape and Nantucket. CACCI, returning for a fourth year as a Navigator, again plans on staffing an information kiosk at the Cape Cod Mall during Open Enrollment to provide information and schedule appointments.

Language Capacity: Portuguese, Spanish

Community Health Center of Franklin County (Greenfield), $47,822

The Community Health Center of Franklin County is joining the Navigator program for its first year, but has served Franklin and Hampshire counties with health insurance assistance for many years as Certified Application Counselors. They have existing innovative outreach strategies, including partnerships with local farms for seasonally employed individuals. CHC of Franklin County plans to expand their outreach efforts through partnerships with local Chambers of Commerce and social service agencies.

Language Capacity: Spanish

Ecu-Health Care (North Adams), $45,000

Ecu-Health Care, a returning Navigator for a fourth year, serves eight towns in North Berkshire County. Ecu-Health combines a multi-pronged approach of advertising, print and social media, and presentations to the community at large about the Health Connector and programs available through the Affordable Care Act. Ecu-Health plans to maximize outreach with continuing partnerships with local human-service agencies, physician offices, and the Berkshire Medical Center to reach people in need of health insurance.

Family Health Center of Worcester, $167,013

Family Health Care of Worcester provides access to medical, dental, behavioral and social services through 15 locations in Worcester and South Worcester County, and is returning as a Navigator for the third year. The Family Health Center will provide support to underserved and uninsured residents through its multilingual and multicultural staff, and will promote self-sufficiency with the availability of self-service computer kiosks. FHCW will continue and expand its robo-call outreach to accommodate five different languages, along with mailings, flyers and other local and ethnic media.

Language capacity: Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese

Fishing Partnership, $110,000

The Fishing Partnership is a returning Navigator for a third year, with locations in Gloucester, Scituate, New Bedford and Chatham. The Fishing Partnership uses an in-depth member database and years of experience to reach its target populations in coastal Massachusetts communities. Fishing Partnership employs a unique mix of outreach strategies based upon knowledge of fishing community, including attending cultural events and engaging fishermen on the docks.

Language Capacity: Italian, Spanish, Portuguese

Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, $121,905

Greater Lawrence Community Action Council, which is returning as a Navigator for a fourth year, provides a wide range of health care and human service program to the Lawrence community. As a Navigator, the Community Action Council will leverage interdepartmental connections to reach and identify individuals in need of health insurance assistance. They also plan to focus their outreach on low-income individuals and Latino communities through social and Spanish media outlets in Lawrence.

Language Capacity: Spanish

Hilltown Community Health Centers (Huntington), $45,779

A returning Navigator for a third year, Hilltown Community Health Centers serve the rural sections of Hampshire and Hampden counties through four sites, and is the only provider of comprehensive medical, dental and other services in the region. With the use of their own electronic records at the Health Center, Hilltown can identify members who need to take action. Hilltown will take advantage of local opportunities such as agricultural fairs, employment events and health expos to provide outreach and enrollment services.

Joint Committee for Children’s Health Care in Everett, $122,312

Joint Committee for Children’s Health Care in Everett is rejoining the Navigator Program for a third year. The Joint Committee serves Everett and the surrounding communities with dedicated health insurance access mission. They employ unique outreach strategies, including a Parent University to engage parents in the local school systems and strong faith-based partnerships.

Language Capacity: Portuguese, Spanish, Italian

Manet Community Health Center (Quincy), $87,650

Manet Community Health Center serves the South Shore through six locations, including a site in Taunton, and is returning as a Navigator for its fourth year. Manet leverages interdepartmental connections to assist health center patients in multiple languages. Outreach and enrollment activities will focus on target populations including the area’s Chinese, Vietnamese, Brazilian, Muslim and Indian communities, with outreach and enrollment events held in conjunction with local colleges and universities, career centers and food pantries. Manet also has a dedicated Hotline to field health insurance questions and schedule appointments for health insurance applications and enrollment.

Language Capacity: French, Spanish, Tagalog, Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, German, Mandarin, Sindhi, Sanskrit, Urdu, Cantonese

People Acting in Community Endeavors (New Bedford), $88,200

People Acting in Community Endeavors returns as a Navigator for a fourth year, and provides a variety of health, education, housing and social services to vulnerable populations in the South Coast. PACE uses local media outlets – including Community Access TV, and radio and print media in Spanish and Portuguese – to promote activities and events, and has multilingual staff to assist clients. PACE plans to explore new messages to engage hard to reach communities in the applying for health insurance.

Language Capacity: Portuguese

Stanley Street Treatment and Resources (Fall River) $93,415

Stanley Street Treatment and Resources serves Southeastern Massachusetts as a medical provider with a special focus in substance abuse and addiction treatment and is a new Navigator organization this year. Their Health Access Team actively assisted individuals with health insurance enrollment as Certified Application Counselor for many years prior to beginning a Navigator. They plan to conduct on-site informational sessions and partner with local businesses in the Fall River community to reach the uninsured in their community.

Language Capacity: Cape Verdean Creole, Portuguese, Spanish

Vineyard Health Access/County of Dukes County, $45,004

Vineyard Health Access is the primary contact for health care coverage information and assistance for small businesses and self-employed consumers on the Islands, and includes a multilingual and multicultural staff that works with medically underserved Native Americans and other residents. Vineyard Health Access is in its third year as a Navigator. VHCAP’s plans for outreach include PSAs on local stations and making a Facebook page in Portuguese.

Language Capacity: Portuguese, Spanish