Over three years have passed since President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. The law is designed to ensure affordable health care to more Americans. A major step in the law will be implemented at the end of this year. The state insurance exchange begins open enrollment October 1, 2013 with health coverage starting January 1, 2014. Ohio elected to have the Federal Government setup its state exchange – click here to view Ohio’s state exchange.
To inform the public about the new state exchanges and the available heath care options, the Affordable Care Act authorized $67 million in grants to more than 100 organizations. Ohio was awarded $3 million in grants to five qualifying organizations on August 15, 2013. The qualifying organizations are referred to as Navigators under the Affordable Care Act.
Navigators will play an important role in the coming months educating Ohioans on the different health coverage plans available on the state exchanges. The Federal Government requires Navigators to meet certain regulations & training. Code of Federal Regulations Section 155.215(b)(1) states the following with regards to training:
Ohio has additional requirements to be a certified Navigator. Ohio HR Bill 3 Sec. 3905.471 (D) requires Navigators in the State of Ohio to comply with the following:
Other than background checks and the requirement to meet the Ohio standard of training, the rules for Navigators at both the Federal level and the State level are similar. However, several Ohio non-profits who perform comparable duties as a Navigator did not receive government grants therefore will not be Navigators. The Federal Government has a special designation for these entities called Certified Application Counselors, with Federal standards being substantially less than those of Navigators. The Ohio Bill is silent as to the requirements of a Certified Application Counselors.
The silence in the Ohio Code in regards to Certified Application Counselors could create exposure to non-profits at the state level, even though they are compliant at the Federal Level. Until further state legislation is adopted non-profit organizations receiving the Federal designation of Certified Application Counselors are left wondering what this designation means in the state of Ohio, and what functions they are allowed to perform at the state level.