The first week of open insurance exchanges necessitated by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is officially over. All over the country, umbrella agencies are training what are called “navigators” to help customers locate their nearest marketplace and find the plan that best meets their needs.

These navigators are assigned different counties based on their geographic location and proximity of resources. Unfortunately for Graham residents, as of Friday, Oct. 4, Young County was still orphaned, as there was no umbrella agency aware that it represented the area.

The Nortex Regional Planning Facility out of Wichita Falls was initially training a navigator to handle Young County, but the training program was terminated. Executive Director of the Nortex Regional Planning Commission Dennis Wilde said that the organization had originally signed a memorandum of understanding to train and host a navigator that covered an 11-county region that included Young.

Due to additional training requirements imposed by the state of Texas, on top of a bevy of other factors, Nortex backed out. “We also took a look at the liability that flows along with the navigator as far as confidentiality of clients,” Wilde explained. “And we did a 180 degree turn on it and decided not to fulfill that role.” Wilde said that the decision was made to back out of hosting a navigator on Friday, Sept. 27.

He said that shortly after the decision was made, his organization informed Tarrant County that they were to take on the responsibility of the 11 counties initially slated to fall under the umbrella of the Wichita Falls Nortex location. “We have informed United Way of Tarrant County,” he said. “They just haven't sought, or don't have anyone in place to cover this region yet.”