Gov. Jerry Brown, D (AP photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California officials have cleared away a regulatory hurdle that could have slowed efforts to open the state’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange by Oct. 1.

Gov. Jerry Brown, D, has signed state Senate Bill 509, a bill that gives the California Health Benefit Exchange agency — the manager of the state’s Covered California exchange — explicit statutory authority to use fingerprints to get criminal history records for exchange job applicants from the California Department of Justice and the U.S. Federal Bureau of Information.

Federal regulators have decided that exchanges should do background checks on applicants who could end up having access to sensitive information about exchange users, and that the background checks should meet the MARS-E standards.

Exchange builders had concerns that, under federal guidelines, Covered California builders might not have the necessary clear statutory authority to meet the background check standards.

Before the fingerprinting issue cropped up, the exchange builders had hoped to make offers to fill 677 service center positions by July 9. Lawmakers did succeed at getting a law passed in time to meet an exchange-suggested deadline for getting hiring back on track.

Regulators have now proposed implementing regulations through an emergency process. Exchange officials have said the regulations must be approved by July 2 to keep exchange construction on track.

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