UPDATE: Feds recruiting licensed broker, agent info for exchanges

Employee Benefit Advisor reports:

“The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is recruiting licensed brokers and agents for the health insurance exchanges set to open for enrollment in October. CMS, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, will begin collecting personal and professional information such as location and licensure status from brokers and agents — a process that has yet to begin.

CMS posted information about this recruitment in last week’s Federal Register in compliance with federal law, but the actual collection does not have a start date. A CMS spokeswoman confirmed that it is not possible to register at this time. According to Marcy Buckner, director of state affairs at the National Association of Health Underwriters, organizations can submit comments about the outlined collection process through April 8, also in compliance with the law. She says the earliest the collection would begin is July 1.

Jessica Waltman, senior vice president of government affairs at NAHU, says this will likely help HHS gauge how many agents and brokers are “out there in the exchange-based market.” And while it doesn’t mean a lot for group insurance-based brokers and agents now, “it means a lot for farther down the road that brokers and agents are included,” she says.

CMS noted in Thursday’s Federal Register that: “A key component of the registration process requiring data collection is verifying the agent/broker’s licensure status.”

“This is not a surprise,” says Waltman. “It signals that they intend to work with brokers for individual and small group policies.”

The Federal Register indicates that brokers and agents will be provided a training program, presumably for their role in the exchanges, following the registration. Timing and content of the training was not provided. A spokeswoman from CMS confirmed that this collection is taking place, but noted that information about the role of these registered brokers and agents is forthcoming.”