TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Some states add background checks for health care navigators

Daily Photo Galleries

By The Associated Press
Saturday, May 24, 2014, 7:21 p.m.
 

DOVER, Del. — Republican lawmakers around the country are adding criminal background checks or licensing requirements for workers hired to help people enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, taking aim at perceived security risks involving customers' personal information.

More than a dozen GOP-controlled states have passed legislation tightening requirements for the enrollment counselors, and bills in other states are pending. While the federal government does not require criminal background checks for navigators, states can set their own rules.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer last month signed a bill requiring licensing and background checks for navigators who help people buy health insurance on the federal marketplace. Republican proponents said the requirements will help protect consumers from identity theft. Louisiana's legislature unanimously approved a similar measure with a Senate vote Tuesday.

Still, there's no sign that enrollment guides, even those with criminal records, have misused consumers' personal information in any state.

“I have no idea what's motivating them, but I have seen efforts over the past few years to make Obamacare fall apart, and this may be part of that,” said Alfred Blumstein, a Carnegie Mellon University criminologist who has written about hiring ex-offenders.

Blumstein said that requiring background checks is reasonable, but cautioned that there should be no blanket prohibition against hiring people with criminal records.

“To the extent that an individual got into a barroom brawl and was convicted of assault, that may likely not be a candidate for doing identity theft,” he said.

While states continue to eye tighter restrictions, a federal judge has halted enactment of a Missouri law that required health care guides to be licensed by the state. District Judge Ortrie Smith said it “constitutes an impermissible obstacle” to the federal law and was thus pre-empted. Missouri officials are appealing that ruling.

Even in states that require background checks, a criminal record often is not an automatic disqualifier.

Meanwhile, the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch is suing to force the Obama administration to release records regarding the awarding of navigator contracts. The group also is seeking records related to federal requirements for navigators.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said Americans have a right to know what systems are in place to protect their health care information from being misused.

“Our concerns are the lack of transparency,” said Fitton, who believes the current process for choosing navigator entities involves “old-fashioned patronage and cronyism.”

“I think the states need to put at least some system of background checks in place for navigators,” he added.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Pentagon program seeks to retain U.S. technological edge against foreign rivals
  2. Hurricane shattered Charleston, S.C., tested mayor 25 years ago
  3. Ticks reduce moose population in northern states
  4. 121 tourists stranded on schooner near Statue of Liberty
  5. Threats from Mexican cartels lead protesters to scrap immigration rallies, organizer says
  6. Egyptian Bary admits links to 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa
  7. Authorities in California search for 5 jail escapees
  8. DHS headquarters’ planning goes awry
  9. Scope of Chrysler’s latest SUV recall questioned
  10. Pope picks moderate to be Chicago archbishop
  11. New DNA testing in twins welcomed by prosecutors
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.