The Land :: www.TheLandOnline.com

Community News Network

December 4, 2013

Texas wants background checks for health-care navigators

WASHINGTON — The counselors tasked with helping uninsured Texans navigate their way through the complicated process of buying health insurance will have to jump through a series of hoops to get licenses under new rules proposed by the Texas Department of Insurance.

The so-called navigators would have to prove their citizenship or employment eligibility, undergo a background check and show evidence of financial responsibility under the new rules, proposed Tuesday by Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber.

They would also have to receive 40 hours of education on Texas-specific Medicaid and privacy standards, then show proof that they have the proper training to guide consumers to the right health plans.

Navigators would be prohibited from charging for their services and from recommending specific health benefit plans to consumers. The proposed rules would also restrict navigators from providing advice on the substantive benefits or comparative benefits of different health plans, the department said.

"In Texas, we are being vigilant about safeguarding privacy and keeping personal information out of the wrong hands," Rathgeber said in a statement. "These proposed rules address insufficiencies in federal regulations and make the training and qualifications of navigators in our state more readily apparent to consumers and service providers."

The 64 pages of rules and restrictions come after the Texas legislature passed a new law this year requiring Rathgeber's office to come up with the rules if federal guidelines for navigators were deemed insufficient. Rathgeber's office said the federal rules don't address Texas-specific Medicaid programs and privacy standards.

The new rules will be published in Friday's edition of the Texas Register. The Insurance Department will hold a public hearing Dec. 20 and accept public comments until Jan. 6. The rules would go into effect soon after the public comment period ends.

There are about 200 federal navigators in Texas.

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) said the rules, among the most restrictive in the country for navigators, will increase costs and could hinder consumers. The fact that navigators can't give explicit advice to consumers will slow down the enrollment process, those supporters say.

"This is an attempt to add cumbersome requirements to the navigator program and deter groups from working to enroll Americans in coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace," said Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Health and Human Services. "The navigator program is similar to Medicare counselors, which have existed for years and never faced this kind of scrutiny from Texas. Despite the state's efforts, we are confident that navigators will continue to help Texans enroll in quality, affordable health coverage."

Navigators are already required to undergo training on specific health plans, privacy and security standards and eligibility requirements for the ACA's tax credits and subsidies.

Republicans have targeted the navigators as a way to slow down health-care reform. Both Gov. Rick Perry (R) and Attorney General Greg Abbott (R) have warned that consumer privacy could be at stake.

The Department of Health and Human Services said in August it would provide $67 million in grants to 105 organizations to provide navigator services.

At least 16 states, most with Republican-led legislatures, passed legislation or authored rules to require navigators to obtain licenses or certification from state agencies before helping consumers. Eight states - Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas and Virginia - passed regulations on the types of advice health-care regulators could offer, according to Stateline, a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts.

 

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014

  • linda-ronstadt.jpg Obama had crush on First Lady of Rock

    Linda Ronstadt remained composed as she walked up to claim her National Medal of Arts at a White House ceremony Monday afternoon.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Can black women have it all?

    In a powerful new essay for the National Journal, my friend Michel Martin makes a compelling case for why we need to continue the having-it-all conversation.

    July 29, 2014

  • Dangerous Darkies Logo.png Redskins not the only nickname to cause a stir

    Daniel Snyder has come under fire for refusing to change the mascot of his NFL team, the Washington Redskins. The Redskins, however, are far from being the only controversial mascot in sports history.  Here is a sampling of athletic teams from all areas of the sports world that were outside the norm.

    July 28, 2014 3 Photos

  • 'Rebel' mascot rising from the dead

    Students and alumni from a Richmond, Va.-area high school are seeking to revive the school's historic mascot, a Confederate soldier known as the "Rebel Man," spurring debate about the appropriateness of public school connections to the Civil War and its icons.

    July 28, 2014

  • Fast food comes to standstill in China

    The shortage of meat is the result of China's latest food scandal, in which a Shanghai supplier allegedly tackled the problem of expired meat by putting it in new packaging and shipping it to fast-food restaurants around the country

    July 28, 2014

  • wd saturday tobias .jpg Stranger’s generosity stuns Ohio veteran

    Vietnam War veteran David A. Tobias was overwhelmed recently when a fellow customer at an OfficeMax store near Ashtabula, Ohio paid for a computer he was purchasing.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-28 at 1.33.11 PM.png VIDEO: High-dive accident caught on tape

    A woman at a water park in Idaho leaped off a 22-foot high dive platform, then tried to pull herself back up with frightening results. Fortunately, she escaped with only a cut to her finger.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • CATS-DOGS281.jpg Where cats are more popular than dogs in the U.S.-and all over the world

    We all know there are only two types of people in the world: cat people and dog people. But data from market research firm Euromonitor suggest that these differences extend beyond individual preferences and to the realm of geopolitics: it turns out there are cat countries and dog countries, too.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
The Land's Twitter Feed