JANUARY 22, 2014
States strike back as federal health care law allows convicted felons to work as Obamacare “navigators”
State lawmakers in several states working to require navigator background checks
As federal bureaucrats and other government implementers of the Obamacare navigator program continue to refuse to safeguard Americans’ sensitive identity information from third-party Obamacare navigators, state lawmakers acted this week to prevent potential identity theft occurrences under the program.
Lawmakers in Arizona, Colorado, and Virginia have introduced bills to establish clear laws that protect regular citizens from having their private information misused during their encounters with the navigators.
"With the continued refusal of Obamacare's implementers to put identity theft safeguards into the navigators' program, Americans have no reason to believe that their privacy will be protected." said Christina Corieri, Goldwater Institute health care policy analyst who worked with lawmakers to draft the legislation. "It’s now the duty of state lawmakers to forge their own protections for citizens.”
Over 120 “navigator” grants have been issued in 34 states, and the list of recipients is a veritable “who’s who” of the left-wing political machine, The list includes groups with ACORN-ties like Southern United Neighborhoods, and the Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation, which recently settled a $1.725 million lawsuit for fraud committed under another government program.
According to federal rules, the Obamacare navigator program does not preclude groups or individuals convicted of fraud or identity theft from serving as navigators, even though navigators have unprecedented access to the financial, health, employment and identification records of private citizens. The federal law also lacks any penalties for navigators who are simply careless with sensitive data.
Under the legislation introduced this week by state lawmakers, applicants would be required to complete background checks before serving as navigators, and those convicted of felonies or misdemeanors involving fraud or dishonesty would be barred from becoming navigators.
In Colorado, where navigator grant recipients have made waves for racy recruitment efforts encouraging young people to engage in high-risk behavior, one physician lawmaker says safeguards must be put into place that treats people’s sensitive health information with more gravitas.
“Having worked as a doctor for over 30 years, I believe that patient privacy is of paramount importance,” said Rep. Janak Joshi (R-Colo.). “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.”
The bills dropped by state lawmakers this week would also empower state authorities to revoke Obamacare navigator grants for negligent loss of private information.
Similar bills are also being considered by legislators in several other states, including Louisiana and South Carolina.