Arkansas lawmakers have passed Senate Bill 1189, a bill that sets the rules for Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) "helpers," and sent the bill to Gov. Mike Beebe, D, for his signature.
S.B. 1189 would create four new classes of licensed helpers: "certified licensed producers" "navigators," "certified application counselors" and "guides."
The helpers would help consumers use the state's PPACA exchange, or Web-based health insurance supermarket. The drafters of S.B. 1189 have referred to the exchange as a "health insurance marketplace."
The drafters have defined a health insurance market place as the "vehicle created to help consumers in this state shop for and select health insurance coverage in a way that permits comparison of available qualified health plans based on price, benefits, services, and quality, regardless of its governance structure."
A certified licensed producer would be a licensed insurance producer who is certified to educate consumers about health insurance exchanges, Medicaid and tax credits, and help consumers enroll in an exchange, according to the bill text.
A "navigator" would be a "person authorized under [PPACA] to assist consumers to shop for and select health insurance offered through a health insurance marketplace, including providing information to a consumer on a health benefit plan or coverage offered through a health insurance marketplace, or facilitates enrollment in a health insurance marketplace."
A "certified application counselor" would be a "person who is licensed...to assist in enrolling consumers in a variety of marketplace-designated organization settings...but is not compensated by federal marketplace funds."
A "guide" would be a person licensed to "provide in-person assistance and services" to exchange users.
All license holders would have to be at least 18, have a high school diploma or the equivalent, and be "competent, trustworthy, financially responsible, and of good personal and business reputation."
Applicants would have to undergo a criminal and regulatory background check.
Any licensee would be subject to the state's insurance laws, including the laws that cover privacy, market conduct and unfair trade practices.
Only licensed producers could receive compensation directly from insurers or recommend particular plans.
The insurance commissioner would have jurisdiction over all licensees.
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