Problems facing Obamacare’s rollout may appear to be subsiding on the Washington level, but dangers over the program’s navigators training and background checks resurfaced over the past week and ignited renewed skepticism for consumer personal information protection.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee have been holding field hearings across the country. Problems emerging over the past month emerged from Central Texas where navigators were video taped encouraging applicants to falsify information in order to reduce their premiums.
As concerned lawmakers point out:
‘First, the law does not bar — or even require screening for — convicted felons, including individuals convicted of identity theft or fraud. This is particularly dangerous because navigators may have access to applicants’ personally identifiable information, including Social Security number, date of birth, address, phone number and annual income. This poorly conceived program endangers families and individuals across the country by heightening the risk of identity theft or financial loss.’
Navigators are roughly a force of ‘health care professionals, union workers and community activists’ who were hired and trained, ‘online’ in a matter of hours to assist health care consumers with questions, answers and the process of enrollment.
These government employees, who are employed without federal background checks, are regulated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Navigators are in a sense, educators of a health care law, not everybody in Congress fully understand.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, some time ago, called for ‘additional training and privacy requirements’ for navigators that operate within the state as federal employees:
‘Further, the Department should consider publishing a Texas Navigator Operating Manual that incorporates all applicable state and federal privacy requirements—including whatever requirements are established by the Department pursuant to its authority under SB 1795.’
Navigators will have access to highly sensitive and personal information. Without federal employment requirements and oversight in place, this opens doors to any criminal enterprise too easily. Fraud should not be allowed to exist so easily and that’s what the Oversight and Government Reform committee is trying to prevent.
While the White House’s Jay Carney claims concerns over the navigator program is only attempts by Republicans to ‘sabotage the health care law,’ one item of importance stands out clearly, this law is full of misrepresentations and that is cause for the American people to be gravely concerned.