Lawsuit challenges Missouri’s licensing law for health care ‘navigators’

JEFFERSON CITY   •   Several nonprofit groups and doctors trying to help consumers sign up for subsidized health insurance have sued the Missouri Department of Insurance, contending that a state licensing law violates federal law.

The groups, led by the St. Louis Effort for AIDS, are contesting a law that bars insurance “navigators” and others from providing advice about health plan features in the new federally run marketplace.

The suit says that the state law conflicts with the federal Affordable Care Act, which requires consumer assistance organizations to provide information about the full range of qualified health plans.

The suit was filed in federal district court in Jefferson City by Jay Angoff, a lawyer in private practice in Washington D.C. Angoff was Missouri’s top insurance regulator from 1993 to 1998.

Later, he spent nearly three years in top positions at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including a stint heading the Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, which is in charge of implementing the insurance provisions of the federal health care law.