New rules for Texas health care navigators

Texas Attorney General Gregg Abbott released a statement today regarding Secretary Sebelius’ Friday visit to Texas. In his statement, Abbott declares

“The future of ObamaCare in Texas depends in part on who will govern this state. Sen. Wendy Davis not only supports ObamaCare – and the navigators who could compromise Texans’ private information – she has sought to expand its reaches in Texas. I have fought against ObamaCare and the navigators, and will continue to do so as Governor.”

Abbott’s opposition to the Affordable Care Act is no secret, but Texas lawmakers have proven their creativity in their recent attempt to cripple health care expansion by imposing strict rules for the nonpartisan health care navigators who help Texans understand coverage options.

The new rules require navigators to submit to fingerprinting and background checks and complete 40 hours of training and education — that’s 20 hours of Texas-specific training in addition to the 20-30 hours of training required by the federal government. Texas navigators are also prohibited from offering advice as to which qualified health plan through a health benefit exchange is preferable. If the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner (Lt. Gov. Dewhurst’s former deputy Chief of Staff) determines any provision has been violated, the navigator may face sanctions, penalties, and/or termination.

Texas has the highest uninsured rate and most uninsured children in the nation, and millions of uninsured Texans could use some help navigating the new marketplace. The health of our residents and our economy is suffering because of a severe lack of coverage, but our lawmakers insist on restricting access even further and penalizing anyone who gets in their way. Gregg Abbott clearly values an anti-Obama political agenda over the health of the people he’s supposed to represent but, much to his chagrin, Wendy Davis realizes that, for Texas, health care reform is just what the doctor ordered.