WASHINGTON, D.C., Aug. 2, 2013 — The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) today praised Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) for introducing two bills pertaining to the funding of Navigator programs, as well as in-person assisters and certified application counselors, as enacted under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
In her role as Conference Chair, Rep. McMorris Rodgers is fourth highest ranking official in House Republican Leadership. She also serves as a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over much of the ACA.
“The Big ‘I’ is proud to support efforts by House Republican Conference Chair McMorris Rodgers on these important pieces of legislation,” says Charles Symington, Big “I” senior vice president for external and government affairs. “The Navigator programs are improperly designed to empower individuals with no relevant health care background to advise consumers on health care decisions that will greatly impact their day-to-day lives. These bills would put in place common sense safeguards to help ensure consumers are protected and bad actors don’t take advantage of these deeply flawed programs created by the Affordable Care Act.”
The first bill, H.R. 2980, filed today, takes aim at some of the regulatory and consumer protection issues concerning Navigator programs. The legislation stipulates that no funds may be awarded to potential Navigators (or any of the navigator-like programs) until the Secretary of the Dept. of Health and Human Services confirms that recipients of the funding have certified that they: (1) will not provide advice concerning benefits, terms and features of a particular health plan; (2) will not recommend or endorse a particular health plan or advise consumers about which health plan to choose; (3) will not accept any compensation that is dependent on whether a person enrolls in or purchases a health plan; and (4) will not violate any applicable insurance law or regulation.
Another bill, H.R. 2951, filed yesterday, focuses on putting safeguards, certifications and audits in place to guard against the inevitable waste, fraud and abuse created by exchanges, subsidies, and Navigator programs. This is of particular importance since the Administration has announced it will be loosening the verification mechanisms for subsidy eligibility through the new health insurance exchanges. Only if the certifications and safeguards stipulated in the bill are put in place and enforced can the exchange subsidies be distributed and enrollment assistance funds, including Navigator grants, be awarded.
"The Big ‘I’ has long advocated that Navigator programs have the potential to harm consumers and waste taxpayer dollars,” says Ryan Young, Big “I” senior director for federal government affairs. “The bills introduced by Rep. McMorris Rodgers hit the mark by raising the profile of these and other worrisome issues likely to be spawned by these misguided programs.”
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of approximately a quarter of a million agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.