Federal exchanges hope to register 254,095 producers

Government officials are hoping 254,095 health insurance agents and brokers will sign up to work with the new federal health insurance exchange (HIX) system.

Officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), an arm of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), talk a little about how they expect producers to work with the exchanges in a notice (CMS-10464) set to appear in the Federal Register Thursday.

Opponents of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) are still trying to repeal PPACA or get the courts to block implementation of part or all of the act.

If the act works as drafters expect, it's supposed to create a new HIX program, or health insurance supermarket system, for individuals and small employers.

Some states want to run their own exchanges. In other states, CMS will be running "federally facilitated exchanges" (FFEs) .

The federal Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 gives members of the public a chance to comment whenever CMS begins a major new effort to collect information.

The CMS is now asking for comments on its plans to collect information about insurance producers through an FFE producer registration process.

The exchange portal will start by verifying a producer's licensure status and issuer appointments, officials said.

Once the producers get through the registration process, they will be able to get any required training and take any required exams at the CMS Learning Management System (LMS) site, officials said.

"The user names and ZIP codes that agent/brokers provided during training will be used to record their training history through CMS LMS, and communicate training results with the exchange portal," officials said.

In addition to using the producer data to run the exchange training process, "CMS will use the collected data for oversight and monitoring of agent/brokers," officials said.

Exchange producers would probably have to register with the system once a year, and getting through the entire process could take each producer an average of 4.7 hours, for a national total 1.2 million hours, officials estimated.

Comments will be due 60 days after the official Federal Register publication date.

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