Texas Just Messing Around with Health Navigator Testing

dmwt_logo_tempNew Orleans  Driving through Texas, the highways are littered with signs, mile after mile, reminding the driver to “not mess with Texas.”  When it comes to the Affordable Care Act and enrollment of the millions of people who have no health insurance though, the state does nothing but push boulders into the road.

You will remember that at one point the Governor and Presidential candidate wannabe, Rick Perry, was ranting at the Texas Department of Insurance to come up with almost impossibly strict guidelines for navigators who were assisting in Obamacare enrollment.  At one point he wanted all navigators to take classroom and on-line tests before the sign-up deadline to stall the whole process, pay $800 for the testing, endure fingerprinting and police background checks, and any number of other things, just to monkey wrench the process.  At least they were honest.  They just wanted to slow down enrollment.  Plain and simple.

Unfortunately, the governor and his drooling, mad dog supporters had a problem since the standards they had for assistors for Medicare and insurance agents themselves were not as burdensome as what they were requiring for navigators who were limited to only helping people get on the website and enroll.  At the end of the day they pushed back the new requirements to May 1st after the March 31st deadline for Affordable Care, and the costs were more in the range of $130 or 150 per test.  Oh, yeah, you still had to get fingerprinted and police checked, but that was more harassment than anything else.

So what is this new rigorous testing and instruction really like?  Talking to some of the navigators who are going through the three hour a day, instructed on-line teaching, most of them are finding it something of an “out of body” experience.  As one wrote me,

The TDI class is unbearable.  90% has nothing to do with being a navigator or ACA.  It seems to be a course to encourage people to NOT be navigators.  All the presenters are lawyers and spend most of their time quoting state law and acting like we are becoming insurance agents.  Every so often they will say, “This part is important for ACA.”

Truth to tell, they are clearly just faking it, so that they can say to someone that they piled it on these poor navigators.  Everyone is just marking time and some Republican legal-beagle donors are making some easy bucks pretending to teach.

And, truth to tell, this is also a complete political charade, not only because of the obvious, which is the fact that the main 2014 enrollment period is now over until October opens up for 2015, but also because the navigation program was only funded by Congress for one year and times out in August 2014.  Talk about kicking a dead horse!  Unfortunately for the millions of people that need them to help get on Affordable Care, there just won’t be any federally funded navigators ready to help for 2015.

This will be just another Texas tall tale of how they whooped it to the navigators so they couldn’t help sign up any more people to that darned Obamacare, when in truth the politicians were just beating a dead horse and play acting for the cheap seats the whole time anyway.  Hey, it’s only about life and death, so in Lone Star cynicism, who cares anyway, and the devil take the hindmost.

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