House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany (R-LA) sent a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seeking answers to several questions about the “navigators” provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Brady and Boustany said they have concerns related to the federal government’s ability to protect private taxpayer and health information during the enrollment process for the health insurance Exchanges. There also continues to be ambiguity surrounding the “navigators” program and what role they will play in providing information and guidance to consumers shopping for insurance, the lawmakers said.
“The White House itself has identified the ‘navigator’ program as critical to the success of the enrollment in ObamaCare, and yet the White House still has not provided basic information about who these ‘navigators’ will be, how they will be trained and what privacy safeguards will be put in place,” Brady said. “It is well past time to provide this critical information.”
According to the ACA, groups eligible to be navigators include trade and professional associations, unions, chambers of commerce, and consumer-based nonprofit groups. Roll Call reported this week that there will be navigators in the 34 states in which the federal government is running the Exchanges, but that navigators may not be fully operational at first in the 16 states and the District of Columbia that are setting up their own Exchanges. Those states receive federal exchange establishment grants and that money can’t be used to pay for navigator programs, Roll Call reported.
Boustany said taxpayers need assurance that navigators will be able to protect their personal information.
“Navigators are going to have access to sensitive taxpayer information, increasing the risks of identity theft for millions of Americans,” Boustany said. “With senior Democrats already predicting ObamaCare will be a ‘train wreck,’ this is yet another area requiring vigorous oversight to protect Americans from the endless costs of this law.”