GOP members question healthcare 'navigators'

House Republicans want more information about the Obama administration's $54 million grants to help people navigate the new insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act.

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On Friday, six GOP members of the Energy and Commerce Committee wrote a letter asking Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seven questions about the grants, which will allow "navigators" to help consumers shop for healthcare in new insurance exchanges.

The legislators requested information "to assist the Committee in understanding the role Navigators will play" once the healthcare reform law is fully implemented.

They asked about the role and number of the navigators, the grants' funding source and how the Heath and Human Services Department will train and monitor the navigators. The lawmakers want the answers to be submitted by the end of April.

The navigators will help consumers who don't get insurance through their workplaces compare options in the new healthcare exchanges, similar to the role traditional insurance agents play. The navigators cannot pick out insurance plans for consumers and cannot be paid by insurance companies.

According to the HHS, there should be two navigators per state marketplace.

The department opened the applications for grants on Tuesday.