Some states add background checks for health care navigators
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
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Social Security benefits to go up by 1.7 percent
- Still reeling from fire, FAA pushes changes
- North Korean detainee reunites with family in Ohio
- Biden’s son Hunter under no bar review after Navy Reserve discharge for cocaine use
- Over 3 years, extended federal leave adds up to $775M
- Panetta skipped CIA’s OK of book, potentially putting agency in delicate position with others
- Alleged trooper killer may have been seen Friday
- Expert: Stress level rises for Americans who forfeit vacation
- Archaeologists sift through Everglades muck for history
- 5 airports to handle all U.S.-bound travelers from Ebola-stricken nations
- Ex-NSA chief drops deal with former aide to avoid appearance of conflict