The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors Monday praised the Department of Health and Human Services for acknowledging in its final rule “the significant role agents will play in the state health care exchanges.”

NAIFA President Robert Miller says that HHS has incorporated the trade group’s suggestion “allowing exchanges to display information about the valuable role of agents and brokers on their websites and in other public materials.”

The final HHS rule combines policies from two notices of proposed rulemaking published last summer. The first notice, published July 15, outlined a proposed framework to enable states to build exchanges, which are new state-based marketplaces created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

A second notice, published August 17, outlined proposed standards for eligibility for enrollment in qualified health plans through the insurance affordability programs and exchange including premium tax credits.

The final rule, released Monday, offers a framework to assist states in setting up affordable insurance exchanges. In some cases the framework preserves and expands the significant flexibility in the proposed rules that enables states to build an exchange that works for their residents.

“These policies give States the flexibility they need to design an exchange that works for them,” says HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Yet, Miller expressed further concern that the “regulations fail to adequately protect consumers by allowing well-intentioned navigators in the exchange systems to forego errors and omissions coverage.”

Navigators help individuals and small employers compare exchange health coverage options and sign up for coverage under PPACA. With the health reform law, navigators can include a wide variety of organizations, such as consumer, industry, professional or trade organizations. The navigators also could be licensed insurance agents or brokers and exchanges subgroup officials.

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