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Ohio Senate passes PPACA navigator bill

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Ohio Senate voted unanimously Tuesday to pass a substitute version of state Senate Bill 9, a bill that would set training and certification standards for “navigators.”

The House already has passed a similar bill.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) requires states and federal agencies to set up a new system of “exchanges,” or Web-based health insurance supermarkets, by Oct. 1. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will start out running the exchange program in Ohio.

PPACA also is supposed to create a new class of independent “navigators,” or ombudsmen not paid by health insurers, to help consumers use the exchange system.

Ohio’s bill would require navigators to pass criminal background checks, and it specifies that navigators could not sell, solicit or negotiate health insurance.

A navigator also could not not “provide advice concerning the substantive benefits, terms, and conditions of a particular health benefit plan or offer advice about which health benefit plan is better or worse or suitable for a particular individual or entity,” according to the bill text.

Another provision would prohibit a navigator from providing information about products not offered through the exchange system.