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Life Health > Health Insurance > Health Insurance

PPACA agency head defends outreach

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The head of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency in charge of the public exchange program defended exchange outreach efforts today on Capitol Hill.

Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), testified at a House Energy & Commerce oversight subcommittee hearing that CCIIO will ban door-to-door marketing and enrollment volume-based pay at the navigator and in-person assister programs for the exchanges run by HHS.

HHS is not requiring navigator or assister organization employees to go through criminal background checks, in part because the department is not sure whether it has the authority to impose that kind of costly requirement on states running their own exchanges, Cohen said.

The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) has been operating for years without requiring enroller background checks, and HHS officials are not aware of any significant problems with fraud or identity theft involving CHIP enrollers, Cohen said.

CCIIO will be running an ongoing enrollment quality assurance program. “It could include secret shoppers,” Cohen said.

Cohen, who looked tired, sometimes had to struggle to get lawmakers to stop talking long enough for him to answer their questions. He noted that he had now gone to Capitol Hill to testify before a congressional committee or subcommittee for the seventh time since December.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., said Republicans keep holding hearings attacking the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) because they have nothing else to do.

“They want to confuse people,” Waxman said. “They want to scare people.”

The Republicans are simply trying to intimidate the navigators and assisters, Waxman said.

Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas, said he has asked Enroll America, an organization that is promoting the exchanges without getting navigator or assister funding, to go door to door in his district.

Green said Republican critics of the navigator program are using concern about fraud to disguise their actual motives.

“They really don’t want navigators to do their job to sign people up,” Green said.

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