COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio lawmakers moved quickly Wednesday to pass a bill setting training and certification requirements for the so-called “navigators” — advisors who will help consumers use the new health insurance exchange system.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) calls for states and the federal government to work to provide access to exchanges, or Web-based health insurance supermarkets, to individuals and small employers by Oct. 1, 2013. The exchanges are supposed to help individuals and business owners use new tax subsidies to buy from a menu of affordable, high-quality health coverage.
PPACA calls for the navigators, who could work for community groups or other nonprofit groups, to help educate consumers about how to use the individual exchanges.
Ohio’s bill requires navigators to pass criminal background checks and specifies what navigators cannot do, such as sell, solicit or negotiate health insurance.
State Rep. Barbara Sears, the bill’s sponsor, says the measure would serve as a blueprint as the state moves forward to meet the federal requirements.
The bill cleared a legislative committee on Wednesday before the full Ohio House passed it on a 56-32 vote. The measure now heads to the Senate, where it will be shuffled into the flurry of last-minute, lame-duck session action.
The state Department of Insurance supports the proposed regulations.
Ohio has opted for a partnership with the federal government to run the exchange but doesn’t intend to run its own navigator program. An official with the insurance department told lawmakers Ohio can regulate navigators without running its own program.