The Affordable Care Act requires each Health Insurance Exchange to establish a Navigator program that will help people who are eligible to purchase coverage through the Exchange learn about their new coverage and enrollment options, including Medicaid, tax credits, and private insurance. In Illinois, the Navigator program will be paired with an In Person Assistor Program to help the 1.7 million uninsured residents in Illinois find coverage. The success of the ACA hinges on the ability of Navigators and In Person Assistors to reach eligible residents and provide culturally competent services.
Two pieces of legislation currently being heard in the Illinois General
Assembly - SB1194 & HB2608 – create barriers to this massive enrollment
effort. The two pieces of legislation establish overly restrictive criteria for
organizations and agencies that wish to serve as Navigators, making it more
difficult for vulnerable populations to be connected with their new options for
affordable health insurance coverage. For example, the bills require that Navigators be licensed by the state despite the fact that the Federal regulations specifically do not require licensing.
Additionally, SB1194/HB2608 are written to address a Navigator program
operated by a state-based Health Insurance Marketplace. However, in 2014, Illinois
will run its exchange in partnership with the federal government. Therefore, this legislation is unnecessary because HHS, not the Illinois Department of Insurance, retains ultimate authority over the Navigator grant process,
including selecting Navigator grantees and awarding Navigator grants, and the
approval of grantee activities and budgets.
Over a million Illinois residents will be eligible for new health insurance starting October 2013. For a successful marketplace, rather than putting into
place restrictions that would deter and prevent community-based organizations
from serving as Navigators, we should work to ensure that broad efforts are in
place to connect these individuals with coverage. For that reason, we ask that
you OPPOSE SB 1194 & HB 2608. See here for a fact sheet on the bills.
SB 1194 will likely be called for a vote in the Senate Insurance
Committee on Wednesday, March 20th @ 5 pm. Don’t restrict the Navigators;
please slip in opposition to SB 1194 and HB2608.
Kathy Chan, Illinois Maternal and Child Health Coalition
Nadeen Israel, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights
Ramon Gardenhire, AIDS Foundation of Chicago
Stephanie Altman, Health & Disability Advocates