Texas hospital officials criticize proposal to limit Obamacare navigators

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Texas hospital officials and Democrats complained about proposed state legislation to impose greater training requirements and fees on navigators, while a Florida group gets a grant for outreach to Hispanics. Meanwhile, California exchange officials extended the payment deadline for January premiums because of continuing glitches and a Minnesota auditor probes the troubled launch of the MNsure website.

The Dallas Morning News: Hospital Officials, Advocates Lament Proposed Limits On Obamacare 'Navigators'
Hospital officials, Democratic lawmakers and advocates for the poor complained Monday that the state's proposed rule on health insurance "navigators" could cripple efforts to educate Texans about their coverage options. At a final hearing and in written comments submitted by Monday's deadline, critics called the Texas Department of Insurance's proposed licensing and training requirements an over-reaction -- and a poorly written one, at that. They pleaded for Insurance Commissioner Julia Rathgeber to refine her rule so it would pinpoint, but not impair, the people hired under federal grants to help people sign up for insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Garrett, 1/6).

Texas Tribune: Democrats Say Navigator Rules Are Politically Motivated
Saying that proposed state rules for the federal navigator program are politically motivated and would create unnecessary training requirements and registration fees, Democratic legislators on Monday pushed Texas Department of Insurance officials to justify their plan (Aaronson, 1/6).

Los Angeles Times: Hiccups Persist In California Health Insurance Exchange
Paperwork and computer glitches are still tripping up some eager consumers who are seeking coverage through California's insurance exchange and its 11 health plans. On Monday, the Covered California exchange said that all the applications it received online for coverage starting Jan. 1 have been sent to participating insurers, but that it is still sorting through an unspecified number of paper applications for that time period. In light of that delay, last weekend the state exchange extended the payment deadline for January premiums by nine days to Jan. 15 (Terhune, 1/6).

The Star Tribune: State Auditor Plans A Full-Throttle Investigation Of Mnsure Launch
With Minnesotans still experiencing problems with the MNsure website, the state's legislative auditor said Monday he is planning a full-throttle investigation, starting with the vendors that received tens of millions of dollars to build the state's new health insurance exchange. Jim Nobles said the first phase will focus on whether the IT contractors delivered on their promises and whether the state kept a close enough eye on their work. "It's fine to question the performance of the contractor," Nobles said in an interview. "We'll do that. But one of the worst things you can do in managing these contracts is to stand on the sidelines with the hope that things will go well. You've got to be actively managing and verifying" (Crosby, 1/6). 

Minnesota Public Radio: Minn. Legislative Auditor Investigating MNsure Contracts
Minnesota's legislative auditor is launching a wide-ranging inquiry into how the state handled contracts with several vendors that helped build MNsure, the state's new online health insurance marketplace. The review will examine whether the state adequately managed contracts with IBM Curam, Maximus and other vendors, and whether the contractors delivered what they said they would, Legislative Auditor Jim Nobles said. The legislative auditor's office is required to look at how the state spends federal dollars, which have funded MNsure. But Nobles said a recent letter from Gov. Mark Dayton to the CEO of IBM that details the failures of software with a $3.9 million price tag has raised serious concerns about how the contracts were managed (Richert, 1/6).

Miami Herald: Broward Group Gets Grant To Help Reach Hispanics About Health Care
As the Obama administration continues trying to reach Hispanics who may be eligible for benefits under the Affordable Care Act, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz on Monday announced a $440,000 grant to Hispanic Unity of Florida (Borns, 1/6).

The Oregonian: Health Insurance Consumers Cite Delays, Lack Of Information On Enrollment
Nearly a week after new health insurance coverage was supposed to kick in for many Oregonians, delays in processing applications have left thousands in the dark about whether they've been successfully enrolled. The delays are mainly centered on people who applied through Oregon's health exchange, Cover Oregon, to obtain new subsidies under the Affordable Care Act. But even some people who enrolled directly with insurers are facing delays, creating stress and potential unnecessary costs. Meanwhile, about 6,000 paper applications to the Medicaid-funded Oregon Health Plan have not been processed, officials say (Budnick, 1/6).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from kaiserhealthnews.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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