Texas' Proposed Background Check Rule for Obamacare Navigators Looks Awfully Familiar
Office of the Governor
At the request of Governor Rick Perry, the Texas Department of Insurance rolled out an additional set of requirements Obamacare "navigators" will be subject to. On top of the training and certification the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services mandates, TDI will require an additional 40 hours of continuing education.
The navigators, who have been trained to assist Texans with things like determining voucher amounts or submitting applications over the phone, via mail or online, will also be fingerprinted and undergo criminal background checks under TDI's proposed rules unveiled Tuesday.
A statement from Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst said the state must be "on guard against the continuing missteps of the Obama Administration." It's all about protecting Texans, he says. Of course, in a state that considers Obamacare, in the words of Dewhurst, an "encroachment on the individual liberties of Texans," it isn't difficult to see the rules as obstructionist. After all, Texas, which boasts the highest rate of uninsured people in the country, opted not to expand Medicaid and thumbed its nose instead at President Obama and billions of federal dollars.
Texas is by no means alone in heaping additional requirements on navigators. There are at least a dozen other states requiring background checks and hours of additional education. The similarities are often striking, causing one to wonder whether there isn't some coordinated campaign of obstruction afoot. Then The Guardian got its mitts on some documents. Wonders cease.
Here's a list of proposed legislation from the American Legislative Exchange Council, (ALEC) an organization that laughably bills itself as a nonprofit. ALEC brings lawmakers and business interests to a common table, often resulting in spasms of identical legislative activity across the country. It's brought us such smash hits as the Stand Your Ground Law of Trayvon Martin fame, and state initiatives to ramp up the incarceration of undocumented immigrants for the benefit of private prison contractors.
Now it's taking on Obamacare. For example, just insert the name of your state, the state department of insurance and the name of a legislator and you've got a ready-made bill titled the "Navigator Background Check Act." Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, to name a few, all have adopted ALEC's model. Texas is about to join the crowd.
Of course, it's entirely possible that the organization that produced "The State Legislators Guide to Repealing Obamacare" is simply offering some good-faith suggestions to protect consumers and improve the healthcare law.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.