McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Breaking News

State House

October 29, 2013

Legal Aid official explains role of navigators in Obamacare

RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — Oklahoma’s navigators can help consumers log onto the government health care website, create accounts and sign up for health insurance plans.

However, the navigators cannot steer consumers toward a specific policy or collect their personal information, said Gayla Machell, coordinator of the Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma’s navigator project.

“This is a very safe process,” she said in an Oct. 22 phone interview from her office in Oklahoma City.

Legal Aid is a nonprofit law firm that helps eligible low-income Oklahomans and senior citizens with civil legal problems. The organization has 15 health care navigators in communities across the state, including Ada.

The federal health care law created a special category of workers known as navigators, who are trained to help consumers explore their insurance options and enroll in a plan, Kaiser Health News reported in September. The navigators will play a key role in Obamacare’s success because they are supposed to help consumers determine whether they qualify for federal subsidies or, perhaps, free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid.

At least 17 Republican-controlled states, including Oklahoma, have taken steps to limit what navigators can do, according to Kaiser Health News. The news organization noted that Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak warned navigators earlier this year that they cannot play the same role as state-licensed insurance agents.

“Consumers can feel confident working with licensed agents and brokers and sharing their personal information,” Doak said in August. “These individuals are trained, tested, background checked and insured. Navigators are not regulated by the Insurance Department and cannot provide these assurances. If they perform any of they duties restricted by law to our licensed agents and brokers, we will put a stop to it.”

Machell said the state has not actually restricted the work of navigators, who are following federal rules governing what they can say and do.

“We’re not writing policies,” she said. “We’re not even recommending policies. We’re just helping consumers work through the system.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
State House
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 U.N. School in Gaza Hit by Israeli Strike Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Officials Warn of Avoidable Death in Hot Cars Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record
NDN Video
Hillary Clinton Blamed Bill's Affair With Monica Lewinsky On Abuse He Suffered As A Child 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.