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Nixon cited a “glaring defect” in the vetoed bill.
Nixon cited a “glaring defect” in the vetoed bill.
Photo credit: AP Photo

Missouri governor vetoes limits on health navigators

By Modern Healthcare
Posted: July 12, 2014 - 12:01 am ET

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, vetoed legislation that would have limited who could work in the state as a health insurance guide and blamed a national conservative group for injecting an error into the model legislation.

The vetoed bill would have required criminal background checks for people applying for state licenses as enrollment aides for the federally run health insurance website.

Missouri is one of more than a dozen Republican-controlled legislatures that have passed measures tightening requirements for the workers known as navigators or counselors under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. While the federal government does not require criminal background checks for navigators, states can set their own rules.

The vetoed Missouri measure mirrored model legislation produced by the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization of conservative lawmakers and businesses that has opposed the Affordable Care Act. The organization's website includes a draft bill requiring applicants to submit fingerprints for background checks in compliance with state laws and federal “Public Law 92-554.” The Missouri bill used that reference to federal law.

But the federal law cited deals with alcohol abuse and prevention, Nixon said. The governor said the appropriate reference would have been to Public Law 92-544, which deals with federal criminal records. Nixon called that a “glaring defect” and “a significant drafting error” deserving of a veto. —Associated Press

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Michigan's largest data exchanges combine operations

Michigan's two largest health information exchange organizations, Michigan Health Connect, Grand Rapids, and Great Lakes Health Information Exchange, East Lansing, have completed plans announced in January to merge, forming Great Lakes Health Connect.

The combined organizations, both launched in 2009, cover more than 80% of the hospital beds in the state and more than 20,000 providers, serving more than 5 million people. The two had entered into a data exchange agreement in the fall of 2013.

“Michigan Health Connect and the Great Lakes Health Information Exchange recognized that our missions were essentially the same and that we could better achieve our vision for a healthier Michigan together, rather than independently,” Dr. Brian McCardel, chairman of the Great Lakes Health Information Exchange board of directors, said in a news release.

The move comes as $548 million in federal grants to establish state- and territory-based health information exchange organizations under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is running out. —Joseph Conn

Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn

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