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Texas Wants Background Checks for Health-care Navigators

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 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. “In Texas, we are being vigilant about safeguarding privacy and keeping personal information out of the wrong hands,” said Rathgeber. “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.” Supporters of the Affordable Care Act said the rules, among the most restrictive in the country for navigators, will increase costs and could hinder consumers.

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