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Obamacare helpers get another $6.8 million

This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.

TALLAHASSEE ‚??¬†Round two of Obamacare open enrollment is eight¬†weeks away, and the Obama administration is once again spending millions on ‚??navigator‚?Ě outreach programs.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced last week it‚??s handing out $60 million in new funding for 90¬†organizations.

Florida was among the top states,¬†garnering nearly $6.8 million ‚??¬†only Texas received more.

The grant recipients are tasked with continuing sign-up efforts aimed at enrolling eligible participants in mostly government subsidized health insurance plans. The funding is going to states where the federal government either runs a health insurance exchange or partners with state officials.

But signing up new participants may not be nearly as difficult this time around as properly re-enrolling existing customers.

Many of the 8 million people the administration says previously enrolled throughHealthcare.gov are not expecting to go through the sign-up process again. In June, it was announced that all plans would renew automatically.

That could prove costly.

‚??A convenience that should come as a welcome relief for those who persevered to land affordable health insurance now holds the potential to unwittingly pick their pocket,‚?Ěreported Bankrate.com, a consumer financial services company based in North Palm Beach.

Florida‚??s Obamacare premium prices are set to increase an average of 13.2 percent, and enrollees receiving government subsidies could pay more if they allow their plans to renew automatically based on last year‚??s rates. Just because the plan renews doesn‚??t mean the subsidy is¬†automatically recalculated.

That could spell trouble for Florida‚??s 1¬†million enrollees ‚??¬†91 percent of which receive taxpayer subsidies ‚??¬†and send navigators scrambling during the new four-month enrollment period beginning Nov. 15.

‚??These awards support preparation and outreach activities in year two of Marketplace enrollment and build on lessons learned from last year,‚?̬†a HHS statement reads.

Reasonably significant changes in income also are likely to create problems, said Josh Archambault, a senior fellow at the Naples-based Foundation for Government Accountability, a market-oriented nonprofit specializing in health policy.

‚??In an effort to keep enrollment numbers as high as possible under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government has put in place a policy that is likely to result in families paying the IRS more money,‚?̬†Archambault said in an email.

Because subsidies are tied to income, enrollees who made more money this year than in 2013, and allow their insurance coverage to renew automatically, could have to pay the difference on their 2014 income taxes.

Whatever the complications, the administration seems intent on getting more people to sign up.

The Department of Health and Human Services said navigators will continue to focus their efforts in ‚??communities with the most challenging or complicated enrollments.‚?Ě A new emphasis also¬†will be placed on¬†enrolling and re-enrolling¬†college-age students.

Since last year, the administration has spent $150 million on outreach and enrollment, with Florida‚??s share registering roughly $12.4 million.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office¬†said¬†the administration spent $840 million on Healthcare.gov and its supporting systems as of July 31. In all, HHS says 10.6 million Americans have been enrolled in health exchange plans, Medicaid or the Children‚??s Health Insurance Program.

Watchdog.org contacted the HHS press office for comment but did not immediately receive a response.

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