Committee approves bill regulating Healthcare Exchange Navigators

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee today (June 25) approved legislation that would provide essential protection of consumers’ rights and personal information under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), according to Committee Chairman Senator Don White.

Senate Bill 1268, legislation that would require Healthcare Exchange Navigators and other related entities such as Certified Application Counselors (CACs) be certified by the Department of Insurance and pass a criminal background check, is now headed to the full Senate for consideration.

The bill, introduced by Senator John Eichelberger, would also require training on the specific differences between the appropriate responsibilities of navigators, as opposed to persons licensed to sell and advise on insurance.  The training would also include education on Pennsylvania’s privacy laws in addition to HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

“It is critical that basic and essential safeguards for Pennsylvania consumers be put in place when accessing the federal exchange under the Affordable Care Act,” said Senator White. “Federal law places very few requirements on Navigators and I believe it is absolutely essential for Pennsylvania to enact the regulations detailed in Senate Bill 1268 to protect our consumers.”

Federal law does not require Navigators or Certified Application Counselors to obtain a criminal background check even though they have access to enrollee’s personal information.  This lack of oversight has already led to convicted felons working as Navigators in other states.

“This legislation will enable the Department to identify responsible parties and otherwise better enforce state laws regulating the practice of insurance in the Commonwealth. The introduction of these navigators into the health insurance market raises numerous consumer protection issues,” said Senator Eichelberger. “Navigators must provide complete, detailed and reliable information to consumers. Since these navigators will have access to confidential medical information protected by HIPAA, it is critical that they preserve the privacy of the extremely sensitive information they will be given by consumers. At the very least, consumers and the Pennsylvania Insurance Department should know who these individuals are and that they have passed some form of background check or training.”

The Banking and Insurance Committee also approved Senate Bill 1432. Legislation introduced by Senator Charles McIlhinney that amends state law regarding limits on copayments for insured medical services provided by a physical therapist, chiropractor or occupational therapist.

Contact:

Senator White: Joe Pittman (717) 787-8724
Senator Eichelberger: Lee Derr (717) 787-5490