Will Congress provide long-awaited relief to health insurance professionals doing business on the Affordable Care Act’s Health Insurance Exchanges? A new bill (S. 1653) aims to level the playing field between brokers and navigators. Here’s a summary of the proposed broker legislation.
Who Introduced the Bill?
On June 23, 2015, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) introduced the legislation.
What is Proposed?
Senate bill 1653, The Equalizing the Playing Field for Agents and Broker Act, would amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) to enhance access for independent agents and brokers to information regarding Exchange enrollment.
The bill would add a broker directory to the Exchanges and provide brokers access to all enrollment information disseminated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Currently, some training materials, such as webinars and newsletters, currently go only to exchange navigators and certified assisters.
The bill would also require CMS to create a broker hotline when health insurance professionals have questions or need assistance with navigating the Exchange.
Where Does the Bill Currently Stand?
The bill has been introduced to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
When Will we Know the Outcome?
At the time of writing, the exact timeline is unknown. The committee chair determines whether the bill will move past the committee stage. If the bill passes the committee, it would need to be passed by both the House and Senate in identical form and then be signed by the President to become law.
If no action is taken or if the bill stalls, the bills would die at the end of the congressional session.
Why is Broker Legislation Being Introduced?
Brokers play a central role in helping individuals understand and enroll in individual health insurance coverage through the Exchanges. And yet, the ACA Exchanges have seemed to favor navigators and assisters over brokers and agents.
The proposed legislation aims to level the playing field by giving health insurance brokers similar Exchange access as navigators. If passed, the legislation would provide a relief to brokers who have struggled to find their role in the Exchanges.
What do you think about the new broker legislation? Leave a comment below and we’ll help answer them.