SD senator gives up on bill to regulate Obamacare navigators
By Nora Hertel
PIERRE (AP) — A South Dakota senator asked a committee Thursday to defeat a bill he drafted regulating the navigators who help sign up people for insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act.
Sen. Al Novstrup said there is nothing to keep a felon from becoming a navigator. Yet the Aberdeen Republican acknowledges there has been no evidence of abuse in South Dakota.
Because of a lack of evidence of bad behavior in the state and lack of compromise with stakeholders, Novstrup said he has given up on this legislation for the year. Novstrup said he talked with the state Division of Insurance, insurance agents, hospitals and community health centers.
"Unfortunately, we are still working on a reasonable solution," he said.
The bill would have required the state Insurance Division to register navigators, make sure they have completed training and check whether they have been convicted of crimes. Registration would cost $50.
In an email earlier this month South Dakota Insurance Director Merle Scheiber said the Division of Insurance was not able to prepare for the bill before its passage. The division would not likely have been able to set up the regulatory framework required by the bill before March, according to the same email.
On March 31, open enrollment ends on the online insurance marketplaces, also called exchanges.
The federal government has provided some regulations for navigators already. And critics of the bill have said it would have added red tape to the process.
After the hearing, Novstrup said, "In South Dakota we don't believe in excess regulation. We believe in appropriate regulation."
He said he hasn't identified what regulations would be appropriate for the potential risk posed by navigators.
Novstrup said he may bring this legislation back next year.
"I see this as an opportunity for the state to exercise its 10th Amendment right," he said, which leaves states and individual people all powers not delegated to the federal government.
Two committee members voted to pass the measure on to the House, despite Novstrup's request. It was defeated 5-2.