Lawmakers Question Role of Navigators in Health Plan Exchanges
On Friday, House Republicans requested more details on the role that navigators will play in the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges, The Hill's "RegWatch" reports (Hattem, "RegWatch," The Hill, 4/12).
The query follows the Obama administration's announcement last week that $54 million in grants are now available for navigators in the 33 states that will have federally run or partnership exchanges (Norman, CQ HealthBeat, 4/12).
Under the ACA, each exchange must have two certified navigators, one of which must be a not-for-profit.
The navigators are expected to provide "fair, impartial and accurate information that assists consumers with submitting the eligibility application, clarifying distinctions among [qualified health plans] and helping qualified individuals make informed decisions during the health plan selection process" (California Healthline, 4/10).
Republicans Seek More Details on Navigators
In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, six GOP members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee posed seven questions "to assist the committee in understanding the role navigators will play" once the ACA is fully implemented, including how many will be deployed across the country ("RegWatch," The Hill, 4/12).
In addition, the lawmakers questioned where the funding for grants will come from and whether more money beyond the initial $54 million will be spent on the program in the future. They also asked how the money would be distributed among states and what role the navigators would play in states building their own exchanges.
Further, the lawmakers requested copies of the application forms that navigators will be required to fill out, as well as documents relating to their pay. They asked which groups, individuals and others are entitled to be navigators, particularly whether insurance agents would be eligible.
According to a proposed rule released earlier this month, navigators cannot receive compensation to sell health insurance.
The lawmakers also wanted clarification on how navigators will be trained in enrollment processes, how they will be monitored and how their performance will be assessed.
The group requested that answers to their queries be submitted by the end of April.
The letter was signed by:
- Rep. Joe Barton (Texas);
- Rep. Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.);
- Rep. Michael Burgess (Texas);
- Rep. Tim Murphy (Pa.);
- Rep. Joe Pitts (Pa.); and
- Committee Chair Fred Upton (Mich.) (CQ HealthBeat, 4/12).