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In-Person Counselor Grant Program 

Funding Opportunity: Illinois In-Person Counselor (IPC) Grant Program

The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), in coordination with the Illinois Health Insurance Marketplace, is pleased to announce a funding opportunity for organizations seeking to assist Illinois residents in enrolling in new coverage options and affordability programs made available through the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA). Grants are targeted to serve populations currently without health insurance and expected to benefit from the ACA’s expansion of the Medicaid program and provision of financial assistance for the purchase of Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) on the newly created Health Insurance Marketplace (also referred to as “Health Insurance Exchange”). In-Person Counselors will be critical to the success of both the education/outreach and enrollment efforts as Illinois works to deliver on the ACA’s promise to ensure secure, stable, and affordable health coverage for all Americans.

Grant applications are due at 4 PM CDT on June 11, 2013, and will be submitted through IDPH’s Electronic Grant Application Management System (EGrAMS). An optional Letter of Intent to apply can be sent to gov.ilmarketplace@illinois.gov and is due May 13, 2013. In the Letter of Intent, an organization may include contact information to facilitate formation of a partnership with other applicant organizations. This information will be posted to this page as it is received. For more information on the Letter of Intent, please see the Grant Application Instructions.

For more information on where the uninsured are in Illinois, please see the data collected through an assessment on the Marketplace outreach needs available here.

Important Links:

• In-Person Counselor Grant Program Application Instructions
• In-Person Counselor Grant Program Application
• Electronic Grant Application Management System (EGrAMS) Quick Start Guide
• State Responses to Submitted Questions (Updated 5/10/13 8:16 PM)
State Responses to Submitted Questions (Updated 5/11/13 12:11 PM)
• State Responses to Submitted Questions (Updated 5/22/13 5:50 PM)
• State Responses to Submitted Questions (Uppdated 6/3/13 5:40 PM)
• State Responses to Submitted Questions (Updated 6/7/13 7:10 PM)
• Informational webinar recording from 5/9/13 (YouTube)
Informational webinar presentation slides (PDF) 
* NEW * Organization Contact Information for IPC Grant Partnerships

For more information about this funding opportunity, please review the Frequently Asked Questions posted below. Additional questions may be sent to gov.ilmarketplace@illinois.gov through 5:00 PM CDT on June 4, 2013. Responses to additional questions will be posted periodically to this page through the application deadline.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the In-Person Counselor (IPC) Program?

One of the goals of the Affordable Care Act – or national health reform – is to make the purchase of health insurance simpler and more transparent for consumers. Health Insurance Marketplaces are user-friendly web portals that will help consumers select the health plan that is right for them and their families. However, many people might want assistance in navigating the website, learning about health insurance or thinking through these important and complex decisions. In-Person Counselors will educate people about the new system, help them understand their health plan choices, and facilitate their selection of the plan that is right for them.

The State of Illinois has released a grant application through the Illinois Department of Public Health for the In-Person Counselor Program. Entities in Illinois can apply for these funds and hire new personnel or use existing staff as In-Person Counselors in the community. Hiring new staff through this opportunity is encouraged.

Who should apply?

Many organizations are eligible for funding under the IPC program. However, only applications from legally recognized organizational entities will be accepted; applications from individual persons will not be considered. Only organizations based within Illinois (including local chapters of national organizations) are eligible to compete for these funds. Organizations that should apply include, but are not limited to:

• Community and consumer-focused nonprofit groups;
• Trade, industry, and professional associations;
• Commercial fishing industry organizations, ranching and farming organizations;
• Chambers of commerce;
• Unions;
• Resource partners of the Small Business Administration;
• Licensed agents and brokers; and
• Other public or private entities that meet the requirements of this section. Other entities may include but are not limited to Indian tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian organizations, and State or local human service agencies and other government entities, including local Public Health Departments.

The formation of partnerships between lead agencies and sub-grantees is encouraged. A list of organizations seeking partners will be available on this website throughout the application period. Please see the Letter of Intent section of the Grant Application Instructions for information on how to submit your information for addition to this list.

More information on applicant eligibility is available in the Grant Application Instructions.

Are there any ineligible organizations?

To receive a grant, an applicant may not:
• Be a health insurance or stop-loss insurance issuer;
• Be a subsidiary of a health insurance or stop-loss insurance issuer;
• Be an association that includes members of, or lobbies on behalf of, the insurance industry; or,
• Receive any consideration directly or indirectly from any health insurance or stop-loss insurance issuer in connection with the enrollment of any individuals or employees in a QHP or a non-QHP.

While organizations receiving funding from health insurance or stop-loss insurance issuers in connection with enrollment into health plans are not eligible to apply, an organization may receive funding for other services and remain eligible (e.g., reimbursement for the provision of medical services, or grant funding for educational activities related to community health).

What are the responsibilities of an In-Person Counselor and organizations receiving grants under the program?

Organizations receiving a grant will be required to fulfill each of the following requirements:

• Maintain expertise in eligibility, enrollment, and program specifications and conduct public education activities to raise awareness about the Health Insurance Marketplace;
• Provide information and services in a fair, accurate and impartial manner. Such information must acknowledge other health programs;
• Facilitate selection of a QHP or, when appropriate, a public insurance plan;
• Provide referrals to the Illinois Department of Insurance, or any other appropriate State agency or agencies, for any enrollee with a grievance, complaint, or question regarding their health plan, coverage, or a determination under such plan or coverage; and
• Provide information in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate to the needs of the population being served by the Exchange at no cost to those individuals, including individuals with limited English proficiency, and ensure accessibility and usability of IPC tools and functions for individuals with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and recent federal regulations that include guidance on the IPC program available here.

Additionally, individuals paid with grant funding will be required to receive online training from the federal government and in-person training from the state’s training partners at the University of Illinois-Chicago. In-person training will be conducted in various locations across Illinois; all training will be provided free of charge. Individuals hired with grant funding will be required to pass criminal background checks.

Grantees will be required to submit quarterly progress reports and monthly expenditure reports, as well as communicate performance data to the State on a regular basis.

More information about individual and organizational responsibilities under the In-Person Counselor Grant Program can be found in the Grant Application Instructions.

How much funding is available?

$28,353,048.00 is being made available for the IPC Grant Program through this RFA, with a $1 million funding limit for individual applications. Proposals requiring funds exceeding $1 million will be considered; such applicants must provide a detailed explanation of the need for the additional funds within the application. Grants may be made to individual organizations or to lead agencies distributing sub-grants to partnering individual organizations. IDPH encourages the formation of such partnerships for the purposes of this application. (See instructions regarding Letter of Intent for information on posting contact information to the IDPH website to facilitate the formation of a partnership.)

Funding for the In-Person Counselor Grant Program is provided under a federal grant awarded to the Illinois Department of Insurance on April 8, 2013 (Cooperative Agreement to Support the Establishment of the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Exchanges, CFDA 93.525).

More information on grant funding, including approved and prohibited uses of funding, can be found in the Grant Application Instructions.

What is the period of performance for this grant?

IDPH expects to announce awards in July 2013. The period of performance will run through June 30, 2014. Please see the Grant Application Instructions for more information.

When is the enrollment period?

Open enrollment for coverage through the Marketplace will be from October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. Enrollment must occur during this period, unless an individual experiences certain losses of other coverage which trigger a special enrollment period. Enrollment will occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during the entire open enrollment period. Grantee organizations should be prepared to work outside of typical business hours to reach target populations.

How does an organization apply for this grant?

Organizations will submit their applications online, through the IDPH Electronic Grants Administration and Management System (EGrAMS).  Organizations and site users must register through the EGrAMS website. It is recommended that applicants register on EGrAMS as early as possible to avoid any potential issues near the May 30, 2013, application deadline.

I have read through the FAQ and Grant Application Instructions and still have questions about the program. How can I ask additional questions?

Additional questions may be submitted to gov.ilmarketplace@illinois.gov through 5:00 PM CDT on June 4, 2013. Responses to additional questions will be posted periodically to this page through the application deadline.

Technical questions related to the online application may be submitted to DPH.GrantReview@illinois.gov through the end of the application period.