Insurance navigator would need licensing

Louisiana’s “navigator” organizations that get grants to help consumers enroll in insurance available under the federal health care law would have to be licensed by the state, under a bill heading to the Senate floor for consideration.

House Bill 764 by state Rep. Kevin Pearson, R-Slidell, to require the licensing and registration with Louisiana’s commissioner of insurance received approval without objection Wednesday from the Senate Insurance Committee.

“It is just an attempt really to protect our consumers,” Pearson said.

The measure already has received unanimous House passage.

Navigators are designated by the federal health department. They help walk people through the complex process of buying insurance on the online marketplace. They must complete a training program and pass an exam to be certified with federal officials.

Pearson’s bill would let the state insurance commissioner add new training requirements up to 30 hours of initial education and 15 hours per year continuing education. It would require navigator applicants to submit fingerprints and pass a criminal background check.

None of the state’s current four navigator organizations objected to the bill.