State Restrictions on Health Reform Assisters May Violate Federal Law

By Justin Giovannelli, Kevin Lucia, and Sabrina Corlette

Regulations issued last month by the Department of Health and Human Services show that laws in more than a dozen states may be invalid because they go too far in restricting the work of consumer assistance personnel certified under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The ACA requires each of the new health insurance marketplaces to conduct consumer outreach and enrollment assistance, including through a “navigator” program. In earlier posts for The Commonwealth Fund blog, CHIR reported that many states that decided not to develop their own marketplaces—leaving that task to the federal government—have acted to restrict the work of these consumer assisters.

In May, federal officials released guidance describing the types of state restrictions that, because they prevent assisters from complying with their federal responsibilities, violate federal law. In a new post for The Commonwealth Fund, Justin Giovannelli, Kevin Lucia, and Sabrina Corlette discuss these new federal rules and analyze how they may affect state efforts to regulate assisters. You can read the full post here.

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