They are called "Navigators." And much like a GPS navigation system for your car, their role is to help guide Americans through the unfamiliar terrain of enrolling in Obamacare.
This week, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it gave out $67 million to 105 Navigator grant applicants. (The United Way of Tarrant County, Texas, received the largest anticipated sum of $5.8 million; the University of Southern Florida received the second largest: $4.2 million, while most others received smaller grants between $100,000-$400,000.)
According to HHS, Navigators "will serve as an in-person resource for Americans who want additional assistance in shopping for and enrolling in plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace" when enrollment begins October 1, 2013.
"Navigators will be among the many resources available to help consumers understand their coverage options in the Marketplace," said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a press statement released by the department. According to the release, they will also provide "unbiased information in a culturally competent manner to consumers."
However, many are raising concerns about the kind of information to which these Navigators will have access.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee voiced its concerns after the grant announcement, which, as it pointed out, comes in $13 million over budget.
"Americans will detail their very personal health and financial information to these individuals, who are then supposed to help them sign up for health care coverage ... The sheer volume of personal information collected by navigators raises serious privacy concerns."
The issue is gaining traction. Also this week, 13 attorneys general from states from West Virginia to North Dakota to Oklahoma registered their concerns with HHS over the Navigators program.
While the Administration says Navigators must undergo 20-30 hours of training for certification and follow strict security and privacy standards, critics seem to have more than a valid concern given the recent investigations into leaked tax returns from the IRS and the disclosure of the NSA's spying program.
CBN News will follow up with a report on other concerns with the Navigators next week.