Austin GOP on offense, DC Dems on defense on Affordable Care Act

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on December 20, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 21 at 11:09 AM

DALLAS -- State leaders took steps on Friday for stricter regulations for health care navigators.

The Texas Department of Insurance had a hearing on health insurance enrollment assistants, requiring them to take thirty hours of training and take a certification test. Currently, navigators under the Affordable Care Act undergo twenty hours of training.

An Austin senator wants to add rules miking it illegal for navigators to charge for service, recommend specific health plans, giving guidance on specific plans, and electioneering, all of which are currently prohibited for navigators.

Meanwhile in Dallas, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted two Dallas navigators had broken the rules, were fired, and were reported to the Texas Attorney General.

"The role that [navigators] play and the kind of job that they're doing [...] is enormously important," Sebelius told reporters. "Because there are people who aren't tech savvy, who need to talk to a human being, and that's what their job is."

Sebelius took four questions from reporters.

She said eligible Texans have until March 31 to apply for insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and that those who need it by Jan. 1 must do so by next Monday.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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