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Texas Insurance Commissioner Backs Down On Requirements For Navigators

U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Following months of hearings and heated testimony, the commissioner for the Texas Department of Insurance has reduced the number of requirements the state is asking of Affordable Care Act navigators.

The new rules posted on the TDI website shows 20 fewer training hours for the navigators than the original 40 additional hours the state was proposing. State Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, is calling the updated set of rules a compromise.

"The main thing is that they cut the requirement in half," Burnam said. "They were talking 40-hours, now they are talking about 20, which is more that is probably necessary but at least they backed down on some of the more egregious points."

The new state rules also no longer require navigators to pay for that training and ongoing background checks, which originally totaled nearly $1,000.

Lucy Nashed with the governor’s press office saids the rules were designed in order to protect Texans.

"You know, before there was no reasonable guarantee that navigators were properly trained or they weren’t criminals," Nashed said.

Burnam said he believes the compromise relates to an open-records search his office was conducting.

"My threat to release the documents where I believe there is a smoking gun as far as the governor’s inappropriate role in this process had a lot to with their backing down and revising the proposed rules," he said.

Burnam said there is no documentation of TDI’s formula behind the additional training for to navigators beyond a letter sent to the agency from Gov. Rick Perry.

Navigators have until March 1 to register with the state and until May 1 to complete their 20 hours of training on Texas Medicaid.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.