Big ‘I’ Files Comments on Navigator Regulations

On Monday, the Big “I” submitted official written comments to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) on the recently proposed federal regulations regarding navigators and similar assisters under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Released as part of a larger rule, the HHS draft regulations were written largely a reaction to states putting in place their own consumer protection laws and regulation related to navigators and assisters.

Since passage of the ACA, the Big “I” has maintained that these programs create serious consumer protection issues and has favored efforts to ensure navigators and similar entities will be properly licensed, trained and certified. Previous HHS rules have been deferential of states’ rights. Until now, regardless of whether a state’s exchange is state-based or federal, the HHS has afforded states broad authority to require further licensing and training. The recently released draft rule reverses course in many ways.

In its comments, the Big “I” expresses serious concerns over many aspects of the proposed rule, including that the draft regulations chip away at state authority to enforce consumer protection laws, and at the same time expand the duties of navigators and similar entities. Approving the regulations without changes will result in a dangerous mix for many insurance consumers who could be left with little financial recourse due to bad advice from an individual operating within one of these programs.

The Obama Administration will now begin the process of reading and reacting to the comments filed on the proposed rule, with a final rule expected in the coming months.

Ryan Young is Big “I” senior director of federal government affairs.