National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative Helps People with Disabilities Find Health Insurance

Navigators and other enrollment specialists can now access better information to help people with disabilities find health care coverage in the federal and state exchanges. The tools are cross-disability programs developed by the National Disability Navigator Resource Collaborative (NDNRC). The 12-month collaborative was made possible by a one-year grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The navigator website was launched December 1, 2013 at There is also an accompanying training guide, the Guide to Disability for Healthcare Insurance Marketplace Navigators. The guide describes the barriers to health insurance people with disabilities have encountered in the past, how disability laws affect the marketplace, what navigators need to know about disability, and much more. It is available at:

The recently launched website also features the latest health coverage news and resources of interest to those helping consumers with disabilities find health coverage (and to consumers as well). The website also features a blog, which, among other things, gives everyone the opportunity to tell their own health coverage enrollment story. In the near future, the website will publish 17 fact sheets with more information on disability-specific issues and individual state information as well.

Before passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), roughly 3.5 million people between the ages of 16 and 65 with preexisting medical conditions or disabilities were uninsured. People with disabilities who are currently doing without health insurance now have new options, including obtaining coverage under Medicaid, buying into Medicaid, becoming newly eligible under the Medicaid expansion (in some states) and buying health insurance from a health care exchange.

The website also includes state-specific information, resources and experiences. The technical assistance includes webinars, fact sheets, issue briefs, newsletters and list serves. The collaborative is discussing the feasibility of providing hands-on technical assistance to navigators.

A key strategy of this collaborative is the National Partner Advisory Board, which is made up of seven national disability organizations. The board represents cross-disability experience and will do the following:

  • Provide disability-specific content for all materials
  • Review all draft materials to ensure disability content is accurate and appropriate
  • Help the project decide the scope, content, and techniques for providing individualized technical assistance to navigators-connectors-assisters
  • Encourage linkages among state and local affiliates and navigators-connectors-assisters

The collaborative is the heart and soul of the project and its partners are:

  • American Association on Health and Disability (AAHD) – Karl Cooper, Clarke Ross and Roberta Carlin ( AAHD is the applicant, recipient, and administrator of the project.
  • American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) – Henry Claypool and Colin Schwartz (
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF) – Mary Lou Breslin, Susan Henderson, Rhonda Neuhaus and Silvia Yee (
  • NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – Sita Diehl and Ron Honberg (
  • National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) – Kim Calder (
  • The Arc – Julie Ward (
  • United Spinal Association– Alex Bennewith and Carol Tyson (

AAHD Public Policy Director Dr. E. Clarke Ross is the Project Coordinator, and AAHD Executive Director Roberta Carlin, MS, JD, is the Project Director. Karl Cooper, Esq. ( is the Project Associate and the primary contact person for the project (to receive electronic updates about the NDNRC, please contact Karl). All materials are researched and written by the Disability Rights and Education Defense Fund.