California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones (AP photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones has officially given the state’s public exchange permission to certify agents.

The move means that Covered California can give the agents who have been taking classes, getting ethics training and undergoing background checks permission to sell exchange plans.

About 12,000 agents have expressed an interest in working with the exchange, officials said.

To sell individual coverage, agents also must get appointed by the health insurers participating in the exchange.

In the Small Business Health Options Program market, all certified agents will be eligible to sell coverage.

Approval of the agent certification process looked like a sure thing, but pro-PPACA insurance regulators in California and other states have sometimes taken actions that may have seemed to conflict with exchange goals.

In California, for example, Jones lashed out at a WellPoint unit that had been trying to join the exchange program, even though WellPoint executives had been talking about plans to fund a big promotional campaign for the exchanges in California.

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