Affordable Care Act
2:00 pm
Thu November 7, 2013

Texas Drafting Extra Requirements for Obamacare Navigators

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has renewed his call for additional training and privacy requirements for “navigators” that help Texas consumers sign up for health insurance through the federally-run Affordable Care Act marketplace.

This week, Abbott wrote a letter to Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber asking her department to draft new privacy standards. In August, Abbott and 12 other attorneys general sent a letter citing privacy concerns to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department.

In his new letter, Abbott asks the insurance department to "consider establishing comprehensive requirements that govern how consumers’ personal information is collected, stored, transferred, and secured.” It continues:

“Further, the Department should consider publishing a Texas Navigator Operating Manual that incorporates all applicable state and federal privacy requirements—including whatever requirements are established by the Department pursuant to its authority under SB 1795."

Senate Bill 1795 is a law authored by Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin. It allows the Department of Insurance to work with Washington on improvements to federal standards for Texas navigators. In September, Gov. Rick Perry directed TDI to come up with more training and regulations for navigators – basing his directive on the new law. 

Sen. Watson called the directive a politically-motivated effort to inhibit the success of the Affordable Care Act. Watson also said SB 1795 doesn’t authorize the insurance department "to put sorts of onerous and burdensome and – in some cases  – somewhat ridiculous restrictions on navigators, to make it harder for them to do the important work we’re going to need them to do.”

But the department says it’s working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies to draft more rules for navigators. 

"The Department of Insurance is looking at the rules as they exist now for training navigators – the federal rules – and seeing where there needs to be better protections for consumers," spokesperson John Greeley says.

The department expects the final version of the rules to be done within the next two months.