Kansas Senate OKs bill restricting Obamacare navigators

Cathy Harding, executive director of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved.- Photo KHI News

Cathy Harding, executive director of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved.- Photo KHI News

By Mike Shields
KHI News Service

TOPEKA — A bill similar to one struck down recently by a federal judge in Missouri was tentatively approved Tuesday by the Kansas Senate.

The proposal would create new requirements for Obamacare navigators, including fingerprinting and background checks.

Republican supporters of the measure said it would protect consumers from identity theft. But Democrats described it as continued GOP political venting against the health reform law.

“This is a political statement. That’s what this is,” said Senate Democratic Leader Anthony Hensley of Topeka. “It has nothing to do with protecting health care consumers. It’s politics pure and simple.
“It’s important we put things in place to protect our Kansas citizens,” said Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook, a Shawnee Republican who has been the bill’s main champion in the Legislature. Pilcher-Cook has been one of the Legisalture’s most vocal opponents of the Affordable Care Act since before it became law in 2010.

SB 362 would require the insurance marketplace navigators and their assistants to be certified by the Attorney General’s Office. They would be required to disclose their credit rating and pay a $100 registration fee each year.

It would forbid navigators from offering “advice about which health insurance plan is better or worse for a particular individual or employer.”

And the bill would permit anyone to file a complaint against a navigator. The complaint would be investigated by the Attorney General’s Office or referred to a district attorney, but the navigator would be required to pay the costs of the investigation.

The measure was opposed by various health care consumer and provider groups, including the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, which represents the state’s safety net clinics.

The bill’s main supporter was Americans for Prosperity, a political action group that has spent millions fighting Obamacare.

There are more than 200 navigators working across the state, mostly thanks to federal grants that paid for their recruitment and training.

The federal judge in Missouri issued an injunction in January halting implementation of that state’s navigator restrictions.

“Missouri has opted not to be in the health insurance exchange business,” U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith wrote in his opinion. “Having made the choice to leave the operation of the exchange to the federal government, Missouri cannot choose to impose additional requirement or limitations on the exchange.”

Kansas also opted not to run its own health insurance exchange, defaulting to the one operated by the federal government.

Senators are expected to take final action on the proposal on Wednesday, so it could then be sent to the House for consideration.
“We’ll learn more tomorrow when the final action is taken. We’re hopeful that members of the Senate will work to be informed and make a sound decision,” said Cathy Harding, executive director of the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved.

Harding said concerns about navigators getting access to individual information and potential identity theft were overblown.

“If you go into a retail store and fill out a credit card application and hand it over to the teenager that’s working there you’re providing them with more information than our navigators have access to and people do that every day,” Harding said.

  • Chief59

    “A bill similar to one struck down recently by a federal judge in Missouri was tentatively approved Tuesday by the Kansas Senate.”

    This bill/law will eventually be struck down. The legislature knows it will be struck down. They don’t care. There are two reasons. They want the ACA to fail, and they want to be able to point back at election time and say, “hey, I voted for that”. It is purely political posturing. It is also basically campaigning on the taxpayers dime. Instead of working on solving Kansas’ slower than average economic recovery, they are working on trying to get votes in line for the next election cycle. If I was a conservative, I would be outraged. For all of the talk on stopping the wasting of tax dollars, this and the recent gaggle of laws that will be deemed unConstitutional and struck down sure seem like a pretty big waste of time and money.

    • Yahooserious

      They’re so caught up in their own propaganda machine that they even believe it. Party of less gov. my @ss.

      • Chief59

        Exactly. They’re only for less government when it comes to restricting the things that supposedly hurt capitalism. Things like the EPA, safety restrictions, etc. However, peoples private matters, like abortion, marriage, etc. they can’t seem to want to regulate quick enough. Bunch of hypocrites. My way or the highway out to be the campaign slogan for every one of them. At least then there would be some truth thrown in.

    • OoopsIDIDitAGAIN

      Yes, because convicted felons should have access to people’s health-care records. Tell me more, dumbarse

      • Chief59

        Which records would those be? Since pre-existing conditions can’t be restricted by insurance companies, they don’t ask questions about your health history. When you sign up for health insurance now, navigators do not have access to your health records, as there is no need to. They are simply there to guide you in the process.

        You really should figure out what you’re talking about before spouting off. I signed my wife up through the exchanges the first week they were up. No health history was needed. People give out their social security number every day to stores, cell phone carriers, satellite tv providers, banks, and car dealerships. Where are the bills designed to curb those businesses from stealing your identity and protecting personal information?

        Hmmmm…. I guess since they are not a key point of the President’s they must be fine and dandy, with no need for new legislation. Surely this has NOTHING to do with the Koch brothers outright hatred for the President and everything he has done in office.

        If you really think this is about protecting people, and not about politics and personal agendas, your head is buried deeper in the sand than I thought. Then again, you’re just a troll who lives each day to whine and quibble, all the while NEVER bringing any facts of your own to the table.
        Convicted felons having access to personal health records….give me a break. Is that why the bill makes them pay a fee each year and submit a credit check? It’s simply trying to discourage people from being navigators. Then, when enrollment for the ACA is below what it should be, they can point and say “I told you so”.

        • Chief69

          So, please post your SSN here, if you are comfortable with convicted felons having your SSN. Businesses and their employees collecting SSN’s are covered by Federal red flag laws ( I bet your are familiar with that with your vast business background). Maybe BHO waived those, he can by imperial edict do that, yes he can.
          Which version of Obamacare waivers are we learning of today!? So little time, so many waivers and special populations to exempt, delay, pay off.

          • Chief59

            The Fox News is strong in you. You act like all of the navigators are convicted felons. Is it possible for someone to steal your identity through this process? Possibly. It is also possible for someone to do it at a retail store, EVEN IF that person has a previously clean criminal record.

            You wingers never cease to amaze me. You want strict background checks for people to be able to vote, or to assist people gain healthcare, but when it comes to guns? Well, you know the answer to that….

            Notice that I said new laws when taking about businesses. There are already laws on the books, but identity theft still happens in a very large scale. This proposed law isn’t about identity theft. It’s about making it more difficult to become a navigator, this making it harder for some people to obtain insurance. If it was really about identity theft, they would be proposing someone that actually addresses that problem. Instead, they are going after the whopping 200 ACA navigators. Yep, sounds reasonable.

          • chief69

            “We don’t mind the Republicans joining us. They can come for the ride, but they gotta sit in back.” 2010, BHO.

          • Chief59

            What a relevant point. Also, by constantly referring to the President as BHO, which is done only to emphasize his middle name being Hussein, you show your true colors as someone who doesn’t see this as a policy issue, so much as a personal issue. It’s time to be a grown up and judge people by their character and actions, not the color of their skin, who they love, what their beliefs are, etc.

          • IwantTOknowWANTtoKNOWya

            Why do you always change the subject, Chief59?

          • DerpSquad

            I think republitards are as full of shyt as your weak bytch asz

        • Why so anti KS?

          I’ve never been asked to give my SSN to a cell phone retailer, satellite tv providers or any other “general” type store.

          You know, all politics are pretty messed up right now and have been for some time. But for you to repeatedly single out conservative republicans is getting pretty old. There are good, bad and indifferent associated with all political affiliations. So, let me ask you: Do you think Obama is a good president and leader? Do you think current democratic views are superior? Do you dislike the state of Kansas?

          • Chief59

            If you have ever signed up for a store credit card, or any credit card, you have given your social security number. Both major satellite tv providers require SS# for a credit worthiness check. Most cell phone providers do the same.

            As for the second part of your comment, yes, politics in general are messed up right now. That is putting it mildly. I do not single out conservative Republicans. I single out the ones that are making our state a laughing stock. I love our state. I’ve lived here my whole life, and will for the near future. Right now, we are the butt of national jokes.

            I think both conservatives and progressives are needed to run the country effectively. There needs to be a push/pull to make sure things are done effectively. Do I think Obama is a good President? Yes, but he could be much better. I do think he is a good leader. Not the best, but is doing well with what he has to work with.

            In 2009 we were in the midst of a WORLDWIDE recession/depression. Five years later, we have the second fastest recovery in the world, behind only Germany. Every proposed action by the President has been opposed by Republicans. Simple things like the debt limit have become huge ordeals. Things like that were not issues under our last President, so why are they now?

            I do not think democratic views are superior, or inferior. All views are needed. However, certain views are backed up by actual facts, while others are only based on beliefs or misinformation. Is climate change real? Facts say so, a majority of Republicans say no. Is our country experiencing growth and putting the recession behind us? Facts say so, a majority of Republicans say no, and a good portion actually say it is worse now than before Obama took office. Do all people, regardless of sexual orientation, deserve equal rights? Recent polls are showing more than 60% of the country supports equal rights for gays. The majority of Republicans do not feel the same way. Granted, I am speaking merely about Republican/conservative politicians here. The general population does not have the exact same consensus as those in Washington, or Topeka.

            The facts are, the world is changing. There does need to be a conservative presence. Unfortunately, we don’t really have one today. It is more of a far right position. That has backed up Washington for 5 years now. This Congress has had the lowest approval rating in the history of our country, currently at 15% approval. Meanwhile, the President has an approval rating of 43%, down just slightly for the average of 49% for Presidents in their 21st quarter in office.

            Recent polls are showing that millennials are the most liberal generation to date. While they are more likely to not affiliate with any one party, they vote more Democrat than Republican, and their views line more closely with liberals than conservatives. Here is a direct quote from one of the links below:

            “But the liberalism of young Americans is more apparent when looking at specific issues. Nearly 70 percent of millennials support same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization — a double-digit jump for both issues from 2004 — and 54 percent think it’s the government’s responsibility to provide health insurance for all Americans. As for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., 55 percent of 18- to 33-year-olds say they should be allowed to remain in the country and apply for citizenship, while another 25% say that they should be allowed to stay, but only to apply for permanent residency. Speaking generally about the role of government, 53 percent of millennials say they would rather have a bigger government that provides more services, while 38 percent prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services. Just 40 percent of all adults prefer a larger government.”

            That speaks for itself. I’m not anti-Kansas, anti-conservative, anti-Republican. I’m anti-discrimination, anti-bigotry, and anti-making the state I know and love a national laughing stock. If you are okay with any of those things, then I have to ask you a question. Why do you dislike your fellow Americans that you don’t believe deserve equal treatment?






  • alexander


  • woody

    Just like a lib, resort to name calling with anyone who disagrees with you. Glad you got your wife on obamacare. If you like it can you keep it?

  • woody

    MSNBC is strong in you. You probably love that thrill up your leg when Obama lies to you.

  • highplainswoman

    So my question is, as someone who knows a lot–but not enough to be a “navigator”, am I then liable when I share the information I do know to be fact (might actually read the law–that’s a suggestion), with neighbors, friends, and family??

    On ID theft, all I need to do is mention “Target”. That should be enough–unless you don’t know credit card #s and other info on debit/credit cards were stolen through the Point of Sale machines at Target’s cash registers. Chase is reissuing new credit cards for those consumers.

    And what is it with conservatives anyway, when it comes to providing health care insurance for those on the lower end of the economic scale anyway?? This attitude is truly “not Christian”, at least as I understand Scripture. “As you do to these, you do to me” (Paraphrasing just a bit here.) I refuse to call myself “Christian” any more: instead I call myself a “believer”–just simply because of the selfishness/mean spirit the so-called “Christian right wing” displays.

  • drivin’ the bus