Last Friday, the NAHU Board of Trustees and Legislative Council met at 6:00 p.m. in an urgent session to discuss next steps relative to the recent announcement by President Obama and the ongoing challenges of the federally facilitated marketplace rollout. Additionally, you may have questions about what you’ve heard about the pending Congressional legislation and how it is different from what the president announced. One of our coalitions has put together this helpful comparison to outline the differences.
Concerning the president’s statement about the possibility of extending individual and small-group health insurance coverage that was scheduled to be cancelled during the upcoming plan year, we have compiled preliminary information on each state outlining what will be permissible in terms of extending coverage. The president charged state insurance commissioners with determining whether such an extension would be allowable and also allowed insurance carriers to determine whether or not extending the policies would be administratively possible, effectively passing on the responsibility for the decision down to the states and carriers. Many states and insurance carriers have not made the determination about what may be possible in their jurisdictions yet, given both practicalities and existing state laws. NAHU will continue to update our chart outlining the decision of each state as more information becomes available and we will keep you informed of the appropriate actions needed to assist your clients in the states where you do business.
NAHU also continues to work with HHS on a regular basis to straighten out the massive problems associated with enrolling clients through the federally facilitated marketplace. Although some progress has been made and some of our members are reporting that they are now able to enroll clients online IF they sit with them during the process from beginning to end, there are many others who still cannot complete online enrollments. The call center continues to be erratic in its willingness to credit agents with assisting on applications, even when consumers specifically ask for the agent’s information to be included. We also have members who have submitted paper applications and are still waiting on subsidy level determinations. Furthermore, once a person is already in process with the federal marketplace, they cannot add a broker to their case if the initial subsidy determination part of the application has been submitted. Individuals need to be able to add a broker NPN number to a case at any point during the application process for both broker payment and consumer protection purposes. We are also still waiting for national and local chapter information to be added to the find local help feature of the federal website, so that consumers can connect with certified agents and brokers easily. While we have been assured that these items will be corrected, we will continue to exert whatever pressure is needed to ensure the outcome is positive.
NAHU will be continuing and accelerating our efforts with the Administration as well as pursuing other actions to improve the current situation, including enlisting the assistance of key legislators, our coalition and media contacts. We have had significant media coverage recently and this is helpful to our goal of making agents and brokers front and center of getting people covered. In the meantime, remember that in spite of the problems with the federally facilitated marketplace, you will still be able to enroll non-subsidy eligible individuals and small employers in most states in coverage in the outside market as you do today and that the open enrollment period for marketplace coverage does not end until March 31, 2014.
NAHU’s firm belief is that agents and brokers are the key to getting the millions of people who are now eligible for private health insurance enrolled in coverage they like and can afford. Please know that you have our complete support during these trying times and that we will continue to work hard on your behalf in the weeks and months ahead. We will keep you up-to-date on the latest happenings and you can expect special updates such as this one to occur frequently as health reform implementation moves forward.
NAHU Legislative Council Chair
Executive Vice President & CEO