After a congressional investigation found troubling information about the people hired to sign consumers up for Obamacare plans, state lawmakers are taking action to prevent fraud and identity theft.
Last week, bills were introduced by state legislatures in Arizona, Colorado and Virginia to subject all Obamacare “navigators” to beefed-up background checks eliminating anyone convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor involving fraud. State legislatures in South Carolina and Louisiana are also considering similar legislation, according to the Goldwater Institute, a conservative think tank that has monitored the matter.
“Having worked as a doctor for over 30 years, I believe that patient privacy is of paramount importance,” Colorado state Rep. Janak Joshi (R) said in a statement. “It’s outrageous that the government officials we trust to keep us safe would move forward with a program that lacks the most basic protections for Americans’ privacy.”
Navigators have access to Social Security numbers, health information and financial information of consumers they sign up for Obamacare insurance policies.
The report released last month by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee found several instances of problems plaguing the navigators. Among those:
• In North Carolina, a navigator grantee organization violated the rules for mailing documents on behalf of consumers.
• Navigators in Dallas were caught on video encouraging applicants to lie on their health insurance applications so the applicants could qualify for tax subsidies.
• Navigators were caught telling an applicant to lie about her smoking habit to get lower cost insurance. Another navigator gave a TV interview and told viewers that applicants’ credit scores would impact their eligibility, which was inaccurate.
More than 120 navigator grants have been issued in 34 states. Many have gone to liberal groups with ties to the organization once known as ACORN, according to the Goldwater Institute, including Southern United Neighborhoods and Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation.
National Review reported that in Connecticut, one navigators convicted of a class-B felony was permitted to work, while in New Mexico one in seven certified navigators is on the FBI’s criminal database. New Mexico caught and stopped several would-be-navigators charged with serious financial crimes, National Review reported, while 21 navigators applicants in Connecticut were flagged in background checks.