January 3, 2014
The Texas Department of Insurance will hold a second hearing Monday on proposed regulations that could make it harder for Texans to get good, reliable health insurance.
The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. Monday in Room 100 of the Hobby Building, located at 333 Guadalupe in downtown Austin.
The hearing was requested by state Senator Kirk Watson, who opposes state efforts that would impede the work of healthcare navigators. In the vast majority of cases, navigators are hard-working individuals who connect Texans with coverage plans that will keep them and their families healthy. Senator Watson passed a bill in the recent legislative session designed to protect Texas consumers and ensure Texans could find health insurance.
However, some of those in control of state government are trying to make it harder for Texans to get health insurance by creating punitive, heavy-handed regulations on navigators.
“Some of the rules being considered by the Department of Insurance are no-brainers,” said Senator Watson, who also serves as Chair of the Senate Democratic Caucus. “Of course background checks should be required of navigators – my bill forbids criminals from doing that job, and I want to see those provisions enforced.
“My problem is with things likes fees for navigators, who themselves are prohibited from charging for their services, and the arbitrary and unjustified addition of 40 hours to the existing federal training requirements. The Department needs to demonstrate that these provisions are not designed simply to put navigators out-of-business.”
On Dec. 20, the Senate Democratic Caucus sent a letter to the Department of Insurance requesting answers to several important questions prior to Monday’s hearing. As of Friday morning, the Department had yet to respond to those questions.