Several state attorney generals sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing their concerns over the security of consumer information on the state insurance exchanges because of the lax manner in which navigators who will assist citizens in choosing policies will be inadequately vetted.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi argued late Friday that new hires under ObamaCare could threaten the private information of people trying to get health insurance.
Bondi said that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is making it easier for someone to be hired as a so-called navigator, cutting back on background checks and eliminating a fingerprinting requirement, which could make it easier for a person’s private information to fall into the wrong hands.
“Because of time constraints, HHS [is] cutting back on the requirement to become a navigator, meaning they’re not going to be doing background checks. They’re not going to be fingerprinting these people,” said Bondi in an interview with Fox.
“And it’s more than navigators. It’s people that assist the navigators. Now, these navigators will have our consumers throughout the country’s most personal and private information — tax return information, Social Security information. And our biggest fear, of course, is identity theft.”
A navigator is a federal employee who helps those wanting to get insured navigate the paperwork of the new healthcare system.
“What if they’ve been convicted of committing identity theft or grand theft before?” asked Bondi. “They could potentially still become a navigator.”
Earlier this week, Bondi and a dozen other Republican state attorneys general sent HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a letter calling her attention to this privacy issue and asking her to implement more stringent privacy requirements and safeguards. They’ve given Sebelius until Aug. 28 to respond.
The letter was organized by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and signed by attorneys general from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas.
Bondi said she wants to know who will be in charge of monitoring the navigators, who is going to be liable if someone’s identify is stolen, and who is responsible for educating the American public and the navigators on fraud prevention.
Again, the question raises itself: What have these people been doing for the three years since Obamacare was passed? Why this ungodly rush to get everything done at the last minute?
The real question, of course, is who these navigators are. HHS just put out a list of organizations who will run the navigator programs in the various states. It appears most groups are non-profit health-related organizations. But included in the listing are some eye openers. There are several Planned Parenthood outfits, some civil rights groups. and a few community organizer associations.
In these cases, it’s a question of competence. Insurance is a complicated subject and expecting anyone with any level of education to pick up the nuances of the policies being offered in the next two months and then expect them to help a consumer make a rational choice is a stretch.
And then there’s the lack of vetting of the navigators, which will invite the worst of them to steal the personal information of consumers. The state AGs are largely concerned about liability; they don’t want the states sued because HHS failed to check the backgrounds of navigators. Their plea is likely to fall on deaf ears. The administration will brook no opposition or delay when it comes to getting Obamacare off the ground.
Add these concerns about the navigators to the fears already expressed about other aspects of security of the websites and you’re left with the impression that buying insurance on the exchanges will be a crapshoot; your personal info may be safe — or it may not.
Meanwhile, the president is telling America that his brilliant brain child is just fine and if the GOP just got out of the way, we’d be in health insurance Nirvana. Congress should demand a disclaimer be read to every single caller on the exchanges that the government cannot guarantee that their personal information will remain private. That’s the reality of the situation and the sooner people realize it, the better.
Caveat emptor, baby.