The study was conducted by researchers at George Washington University, who say that rules and regulations have interfered with outreach and enrollment efforts; thus, preventing community health centers from the crucial role they play in delivering health insurance to those who don’t have any.
“This is the first study to attempt to measure the impact of restrictive state policies,” said Sara Rosenbaum, the lead researcher at George Washington's Department of Health Policy.
“The navigator laws are having a real effect,” she added.
The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, wants to provide health insurance to the 15 percent of Americans without any, and they've made that possible by offering health insurance to them through one of three ways:
1) Through the online exchanges at HealthCare.gov;
2) Through an expansion of Medicaid; or
2) Through a change in insurance laws that prevents insurance companies from turning down or otherwise ceasing coverage for certain people when it becomes too pricey.
In order to get people to sign up for Obamacare, the White House administration hired a team of people they referred to as “navigators” to assist those trying to determine what kind of health plan worked best for them. Community health centers also tried to help by providing similar assistance of their own, as many of their clients are especially in need of health insurance.
However, after the Supreme Court offered states the option of expanding Medicaid, around 20 of them decided against it, despite the fact that the federal government agreed to cover the cost of expansion until 2017.
Meanwhile, other states have passed legislation that limits what the so-called navigators can ask and say to those they’re trying to help sign up for Obamacare.
States like Missouri, Montana, Texas and Florida have all refused to expand Medicaid or offer online marketplaces with exchanges. As a result, the federal government has stepped in to force the matter.
Those who support the laws claim they’re necessary to make certain that people who work with private information can be trained properly, but the administration calls it "bullying."
"This is a blatant attempt to add cumbersome requirements to the navigator program and deter groups from working to inform Americans about their new health insurance options and help them enroll in coverage,” U.S. Health and Human Services department spokesman Fabien Levy said in September after Texas passed its law.