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House Lawmakers Grill CMS Over Health Exchange Navigators

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media, May 22, 2013

He went on to note that as part of "Obamacare, the IRS is building the largest personal information data hub that the federal government has ever attempted."

On the Democratic side reaction was swift and pointed. "Until recently I thought that the difference between us and a Banana Republic was that in this country once a law is passed or the Supreme Court has spoken, the law was the law even when our side lost," said Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC).

"Republicans are still fighting the Affordable Care Act as if it is not the law of the land… Today's hearing is merely an effort to continue to obstruct the law and the right of citizens to health insurance."

Amid the posturing on both sides of the aisle, the sole witness, Gary Cohen, deputy administrator and director for the Center of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, soldiered on. His five-minute statement focused entirely on how navigators are expected to help millions of uninsured make their way through the complicated health insurance market.

While the marketplaces hold the promise of being places where consumers will be able to easily compare costs, benefits, and cost-sharing to select a plan that is right for them, Cohen stated that "ensuring that consumers and businesses participate in the marketplaces requires that they learn about the benefits that these marketplaces have to offer and that they get the help they need to take advantage of those benefits. This is a significant undertaking. We know quite a bit about the uninsured American we need to reach: many have never had health insurance, so the transaction of selecting, applying, and enrolling in healthcare coverage will be unfamiliar…20% have not completed high school. To effectively reach these populations…information must be provided by people connected to the community in an appropriate manner."

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2 comments on "House Lawmakers Grill CMS Over Health Exchange Navigators"


ibjim (5/24/2013 at 6:56 PM)
The process for signing up for healthcare insurance under Obamacare will be greatly simplified. The exchanges are set up to compare apples to apples, etc, much different than today's complex health insurance offerings. You should look at some of the sample marketplace exchanges that are in demonstration mode already around the country - the Kaiser Foundation, Cover Oregon, Washington Health Exchange, etc. Put in your information, decide your level of coverage, choose your plan, sign up, pay the first premium, presto, you're done.

Rod Humphrey (5/22/2013 at 2:07 PM)
I feel as though the only ones that should be able to be properly skilled enough would be currently Licensed Health Agents, as they not only have 24 Hours of Continuing education requirements Yearly, but have local basic market knowledge to know which products would be best for each and every individual, whereas churches and non profits have very little expertise in this arena, and even 20 hours of training, isn't going to be any even be enough to scratch the surface of the knowledge level required especially since many states have opted out of their own State sponsored Exchanges as Pennsylvania has for example, and no guidance is yet available as of this date for the Federal exchanges availability as of yet either! Let the Pros handle it, they're already licensed!!!! Felons are not allowed to be licensed in any state to my knowledge, so that would take care of that, and there is oversight of licensed agents already in place via the appropriate states!