(NASHVILLE, Tenn.), September 24, 2013 – Senate Government Operations Committee Chairman Mike Bell (R-Riceville) said today that Navigators operating in Tennessee under the Federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) should be registered with the state as proposed in rules recently filed by the Department of Commerce and Insurance. Bell also said he favors providing strong consumer protections, including those to safeguard privacy of medical and financial information.
Navigators, or Application Counselors, are individuals or entities who facilitate enrollment in insurance exchanges pursuant to the PPACA, which is also known as Obamacare. The General Assembly passed legislation earlier this year directing the Department of Commerce and Insurance promulgate rules to oversee them. Those rules, which are already in effect on an emergency basis, are scheduled to be heard by the General Assembly’s Joint Government Operations Rule Review Committee on November 13.
“I want to see strong consumer protections in place as these Navigators will have access to private consumer health and financial information,” said Chairman Bell. “Although this is a federal mandate that the state opted not to participate in, we are still responsible to ensure Tennessee consumers are protected. We continue to see monumental implementation problems with this massive program which was rushed through Congress without due diligence. Our Committee will look very carefully at the emergency rules that have been filed by our state’s Commerce and Insurance Department to ensure that they provide adequate protections.”
Among other provisions, Tennessee’s proposed rules call for applicants to be at least 18 years old, be of good character and integrity, maintain a principal place of business in the state, pass a background check, and complete the federal training program for Navigators or Certified Application Counselors. The proposed rules also provide parameters in which the Navigators can operate and prescribe consequences for violation of the registration including fraudulent, coercive or dishonest practices.
“We need appropriate training requirements, criminal records checks, conflict of interest disclosures, and a code of professional conduct to protect consumers,” added Bell. “For example, it is important that we keep convicted felons from gaining access to a consumer’s financial information.”
“There are a wide variety of professions in Tennessee where similar rules apply,” said Bell. “This helps to ensure, to the best of our ability, that Tennessee consumers are working with knowledgeable and trustworthy professionals.”
PPACA marketplace enrollment begins on October 1.