Ohio Organizations Scramble to Prepare for Affordable Care Act Marketplace

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The word “navigator” these days isn’t a reference to the latest GPS technology.

Navigators are the people who will help the uninsured sign up for federal health plans when the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, kicks in.

"We’re looking at somewhere between 30 and 40 navigators," said Jason Elchert with the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, which got a federal grant to train navigators across the state.

But right now their number of certified navigators is zero.

And the group is facing a mountain of paperwork: separate federal and state certifications, and a request from House Republicans in Washington for extensive documentation of the navigator program.

Elchert says the real challenge, though, will be actually reaching the uninsured.

"You know, we’re looking at 1.5 to 1.6 million Ohioans," he said. "How do we hit all those people to the best of our abilities?"

The Foodbank Association is planning to hold hundreds of public meetings across the state in the coming months. Private insurers, hospitals and other community groups will also hold events.

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