Tennessee judge denies bid to halt insurance exchange rules

Tennessee judge denies bid to halt insurance exchange rules

Posted:

By ERIK SCHELZIG
Associated Press

NASHVILLE (AP) - A judge has denied an effort to block emergency rules covering people dispensing advice about the new health insurance exchange in Tennessee that launches Tuesday.

Chancellor Russell T. Perkins ruled Monday evening that the state's rules would not immediately do irreparable harm. He scheduled the next hearing on the lawsuit filed by the Tennessee Justice Center for Oct. 9.

The case filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters and several individuals argued that the state's rules requiring background checks for advisers was too broad and could affect a wide range of people trying to help others gain coverage.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has defended the rules as helping to prevent fraud.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that emergency rules covering people dispensing advice about the new health insurance exchange are not designed to hinder enrollment.

Haslam told reporters after a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new hotel in downtown Nashville that the background check requirement is meant to protect people from fraud.

The online insurance marketplaces launching Tuesday are a major part of President Barack Obama's health care law.

Haslam said he wants the exchange to succeed despite his opposition to the overall health care law.

"The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land right now and whether I agree with it or not doesn't matter," Haslam said.

Tennessee is among 36 states that deferred to the federal government to run the online marketplaces.

"Certainly if it's in place, we want it to work well," Haslam said.

A lawsuit filed on Friday seeks to halt the emergency rules, calling them too broad. A court hearing on the case filed on behalf of the League of Women Voters and several individuals by the Tennessee Justice Center was scheduled for Monday afternoon.

The lawsuit argues that the rules are overly broad because they apply not just to designated "navigators," but to anyone who might give advice on health insurance - which could include family, clergy, civic organizations or other acquaintances and advisers.

The rules authorize a fine of $1,000 per violation.

Haslam said the rules were authorized by legislation passed with wide bipartisan support earlier this year, and were enacted at the last-minute because of a delay of federal guidelines.

"It's certainly not intended to be a stumbling block," Haslam said.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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