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Texas wants to regulate federal "navigators"

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Amarillo, TX - Health care is on just about everyone's mind lately as the far-reaching and much-contested Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act takes its first steps.  And Texas is trying to follow Washington's rules without compromising its own.

The Affordable Care Act's individual mandate doesn't actually go into effect until January, but the marketplace for exchanges opens October first.  And the myriad changes the Act is bringing to both health insurance and the marketplace have prompted the federal government to create so-named "navigators" to help consumers and employers understand their new options.

The navigators will have be trained and certified, but in the last regular session, the Texas Legislature passed a Senate Bill 1795, which grants the state the right to regulate them.

In a letter to in a letter sent Monday, Governor Perry ordered the Texas Department of Insurance to create state requirements and oversight, writing,

"...I am directing TDI to use its authority under S.B. 1795 and create rules to ensure that navigators are well-trained, qualified, and capable of protecting Texans' privacy."

The federal government says many of the new restrictions the law imposes are already in place under U.S. law.  But the Texas Department of Insurance has will begin drafting the rules to comply with the state law.

At least sixteen other states have drafted similar legislation.

The six-month open enrollment period starts October first and runs through the end of March.

You can learn more about the federal navigators, the new law, or see the Governor's letter at the links attached to this story.

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