Bill to license new health care workers clears final hurdle

A bill that would require a new group of health care workers called health insurance navigators to be licensed and regulated cleared its final legislative hurdle Thursday.

The House of Representatives passed House Bill 198 after the Senate approved a version that would require navigators to be knowledgeable about the state’s health programs for low-income Georgians: Medicaid and PeachCare for Kids. The legislation passed 136-24. It will now go to the governor’s desk for his signature.

The federal Affordable Care Act calls for health insurance navigators to help uninsured people and businesses use the new federally run online health insurance marketplaces starting this fall. The bill would require navigators to have at least 35 hours of training, be licensed and take continuing education classes.

Navigators will be called on to help consumers determine what type of coverage they are eligible for — commercial health plans or a government program — and whether they qualify for federal tax subsidies. They will be overseen by the state insurance commissioner and paid for with federal grant dollars.