April 10, 2014 (Lansing) – By a 4-1 margin Michigan small business owners want
the state to regulate health care “navigators” to ensure their trustworthiness,
training and professional standards, according to a new survey by the National
Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).
“This may be the first time
that small business owners are strongly in favor of new regulations,” said NFIB Michigan State Director Charlie Owens. “I think it shows a high level of suspicion
that the navigators won’t be any more competent than the people who designed
what is universally recognized as a deeply flawed health care system.”
Under the Affordable Health
Care Act, every state is required to have an Exchange that is supposed to
function like a virtual marketplace. The
law created navigators as well, people employed by the exchanges to assist
consumers through the enrollment process.
That gives them access to highly personal information and requires a
high knowledge of insurance rules and products.
“Navigators get only 20 hours
of training,” said Owens. “Compare that
to the hundreds of hours of training, testing, continuing education and ethics courses
that we require of insurance professionals in the private sector.
“We’re not talking about
dating advice here,” he continued. “If
consumers don’t trust the people who are handling their personal health and
financial information, and if they don’t have confidence in the level of professionalism,
then the system isn’t going to work.”
NFIB surveyed its members in
Michigan recently to ask whether they want the state to require background
checks, more training and higher standards for the navigators. Sixty
five percent (65%) said yes. Only 16
percent of NFIB members would oppose beefier rules while 19 percent were
“Many small business owners
in Michigan had their previous insurance policies cancelled by Obamacare and
they are now forced to shop in the exchanges,” said Owens. “They deserve at least the peace of mind of
knowing that the navigators are well trained, well-educated and well vetted.”
There are two bills currently
under consideration in the Legislature that would tighten up the qualification
requirements for Obamacare navigators: House Bill 4576, sponsored by Rep. Huge
Crawford (R-38) and Senate Bill 324, sponsored by Senator James Marleau (R-12).
For more information about
NFIB, please visit www.nfib.com.