February 3 2014
Patrice J. Lee
If a job applicant had been convicted of forgery and theft would you hire her as a bank teller or to process loans?
In California, such an applicant might find work as an ObamaCare navigator.
New evidence from an analysis of healthcare navigators in California finds that almost three dozen ObamaCare workers have convictions, including for forgery and burglary – not to mention harm and injury to a child. This is concerning as their role exposes them to personal financial information of Americans signing up for ObamaCare.
Perhaps they are reformed but for someone who has a history of fraud and theft convictions that is like giving them the code to the bank vault and telling them not to go inside.
CBS Sacramento reports:
According to data provided to CBS13 by Covered California, 31 of the nearly 4,000 working to sign up people for new policies have convictions. One was for harm and injury to a child. A second was convicted of two counts of forgery, while a third has burglary and forgery convictions spanning two decades.
Still, they’re allowed access to the personal information of the people that they are enrolling.
Dana Howard with Covered California says all applicants go through scrutiny to make sure the counselor has changed their ways.
“We don’t believe there is any heightened reason for consumers to be alarmed,” he said.
But why would they take the risk of entrusting people with criminal backgrounds with the personal information of Californians seeking insurance?
“It’s about the Civil Rights Act,” he said. We cannot just wantonly say that we’re not going to hire or certify an individual just because they have a criminal background.”
Employment attorney John Kennedy says there are a number of laws to protect people from being automatically denied work because of criminal histories.
But at the same time, he says, hiring convicts could leave the insurance exchange vulnerable.
To be fair, we don’t know what all of the convictions were for. I am an advocate for re-entry programs that give reformed individuals an opportunity to start over. Reintegration into the workforce and society is difficult when your convictions preclude you and we should make efforts to change that. However, if you’ve had problems abusing private data of others for gain, I would be cautious about placing temptation in your way.
In California there are two problems. First, there is the immediate security of enrollees’ data, which at this point could already have been compromised. Can Californians be assured that their identities haven’t been stolen by a friendly navigator who helped them process their healthcare application?
Second, officials with Covered California, the state’s health exchange, don’t think there’s a problem and have no plans to remove these individuals. To me that raises questions about the judgment of the officials who are administering this massive program. Californians agree based on the hundreds who reached out to a local news station voicing their concerns including one woman.
California officials and the Obama Administration will downplay the harm of this story because this state exchange has been a relative success in the ObamaCare roll out. Covered California too has its woes, including recent news that it spent $1.37 million on a six-hour live-stream with a gyrating Richard Simmons and an announcement of a nearly $2 million a year office lease despite the fact that the exchange will be $78 million in debt next year.
California is likely not the only state sitting on a navigator scandal waiting to happen. As we’ve reported, the Administration and state exchange officials continue to ignore recommendations and pleas from attorneys general that these navigators need greater scrutiny and oversight.
Scandals magnify problems until they are too big to ignore. Enrollees and potential applicants should be aware.
(IWF Senior Fellow Jillian Melchoir, by the way, broke the story on ObamaCare navigators with criminal records out West.)