EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

National News

May 25, 2014

5 things to know about health navigator security

Lawmakers in several states have passed legislation to address concerns about potential security risks involving workers hired to help people apply for health care insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

There’s no sign, however, that the enrollment assistants, even those with criminal records, have misused consumers’ personal information.

Here are five things to know about the issue:

THERE’S NO FEDERAL REQUIREMENT

The Obama administration decided not to require criminal background checks for health care navigators, although states can set their own rules for workers helping people enroll for insurance under the federal health care reform law.

STATE-TO-STATE DIFFERENCES

Some states, such as Texas and Louisiana, have adopted legislation and regulations that allow officials to deny certification to work as an enrollment assistant if someone has been convicted of a felony. In many other states, a criminal background does not act as an automatic disqualifier.

VETTING FOR THOSE WITH RECORDS

In at least three states, California, Nevada and Delaware, people with criminal pasts have been allowed to work as enrollment assistants. Officials in all three states say they have received no complaints about enrollment workers misusing consumers’ personal information.

LEGAL WRANGLING

The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to force the Obama administration to release records regarding contracts awarded to private entities for providing navigators to help people enroll for health insurance. The group also is seeking records regarding the federal requirements for navigators, including background checks and qualifications. Meanwhile, Missouri officials are appealing a federal judge’s decision to halt implementation of a state law requiring people to be licensed by the state in order to work as enrollment counselors or navigators. The judge said the state law was an obstacle to the federal law and thus pre-empted by federal law.

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