State Restrictions on Health Reform Assisters May Violate Federal Law

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. In a blog post published by The Commonwealth Fund, Justin Giovannelli, Kevin Lucia, and Sabrina Corlette discuss these new rules and how they affect state efforts to regulate consumer assisters. Continue reading

Recommendations to Strengthen Navigator and Assister Programs

With the close of open enrollment in the new health insurance Marketplaces, it is a good time not only to applaud the work of the navigators and consumer assisters who helped people gain access to new coverage, but also to reflect on lessons learned and assess what can be done to improve consumer assistance for 2015. Our colleague at Georgetown University’s Center for Children and Families, Tricia Brooks, does just that in her latest post. Continue reading

HHS Proposes to Preempt Some State Navigator Laws; Lays Out Federal Enforcement Framework

In a proposed regulation released Friday, March 14, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services drew a line in the sand for states with laws restricting the ability of Navigators and consumer assisters to perform the jobs required of them under the ACA. Sabrina Corlette has an overview of the proposed rules and what they mean for Navigators and for states. Continue reading

Shifting into Post-Enrollment Issues: Fielding New Questions from Consumers

As we approach the end of open enrollment into new coverage options under the Affordable Care Act, many consumers have questions about their new health plans – what benefits are covered, what doctors are included in their networks, and what to do if there’s a problem. JoAnn Volk has them covered, with a series of frequently asked questions about post-enrollment issues, excerpted from our Navigator Resource Guide. Continue reading

Federal Court Ruling Casts Doubt on State Power to Restrict Health Reform Navigators

In January, a federal court in Missouri became the first to rule on whether states have the legal authority to restrict the work of the Affordable Care Act’s consumer assistance “navigators.” In a new post for The Commonwealth Fund, Justin Giovannelli, Kevin Lucia, and Sabrina Corlette discuss the decision and explore its significance for Missouri and the other states that have adopted restrictions on navigators and consumer assisters. Continue reading

New Resource for Assisters Covers Private Insurance and Marketplace Plans

Almost two months into open enrollment, Navigators and other consumer assisters must field a multitude of questions about plan options inside the marketplace and out, how individual and employer-sponsored coverage may change as a result of the ACA, and whether consumers have the coverage they need to satisfy the individual mandate. Today, CHIR released a Navigator Resource Guide that helps Navigators explain key insurance and marketplace concepts and accurately answer a wide range of questions. Continue reading

Helping Consumers Understand their Coverage Options, from Coast to Coast

A massive consumer outreach and education effort is underway to help consumers understand their new coverage options under the Affordable Care Act. But obstacles remain, particularly in states with federally facilitated marketplaces. In the second of a two-part series of blogs for the Commonwealth Fund, CHIR faculty members Sarah Dash, Kevin Lucia, and Justin Giovannelli examined the range of outreach efforts across the states. Continue reading