With just a compass, some charts, and an hourglass, Christopher Columbus was able to navigate sailing ships to the New World and back multiple times. By contrast, reports the Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard, it is going to take “tens of thousands” of people, each possibly earning “$20 an hour or more,” to help Americans navigate ObamaCare.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed a rule laying out the requirements for the healthcare law’s insurance “navigators,” whose job it will be to assist Americans who don’t have coverage through their employers in purchasing insurance through state exchanges. Buying coverage is scheduled to commence in January, but the websites and call centers for the exchanges are supposed to go active October 1, and that’s when the navigators will first be needed. (Of course, those dates could very well be pushed back: The feds’ small-business exchange has already been delayed a year, and HHS is also known to be a few months behind on the state exchanges, many of which it will have to run.)
There is little question that people are going to need a great deal of help finding their way through the labyrinthine legislation. The two laws comprising ObamaCare come to nearly 1,000 pages, and the regulations issued under it are already “well over twice as long as the Guinness World Record for the longest novel,” according to Americans for Limited Government. A draft version of the federal government’s application for insurance is 15 pages long for a family of three and includes an additional 61-page questionnaire for determining eligibility for financial assistance. The proposed navigator rule itself runs to 63 pages.
Just who is eligible to become a navigator? Although the rule declares that navigators “must not have a conflict of interest during their term” and “must provide information and services in a fair, accurate, and impartial manner,” it provides little other guidance. “The rules allow navigators to come from the ranks of unions, health providers and community action groups such as ACORN and Planned Parenthood,” Bedard states. In fact, they require each exchange to have “at least two different types of entities as Navigators, one of which must be a community and consumer-focused non-profit group.”
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