You may already think that Obamacare is criminal – forcing consumers to pay for coverage of treatment they’ll never need, fixing prices and excluding coverage of certain live-saving measures. And then there are those fines.
But what if the people who are guiding you through the maze of Obamacare rules and regulations really are criminals?
The fact that some could be criminals already has been confirmed by Kathleen Sebelius, who recently resigned as Health and Human Services secretary some six months after the catastrophic rollout of the Obamacare government website.
It was during a November 2014 Senate Finance Committee hearing when Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was asking questions about the government’s evaluation process of the Obamacare “navigators” hired to obtain confidential information about taxpayers and help guide them through the system.
Cornyn asked Sebelius: “So I want to ask you about the navigators … isn’t it true that there is no federal requirement for navigators to undergo a criminal background check, even though they will receive sensitive personal information from the individuals they help to sign up … for the Affordable Care Act?”
“That is true,” Sebelius said.
“So a convicted felon could be a navigator and could acquire sensitive personal information from an individual unbeknownst to them?” Cornyn asked.
“That is possible,” Sebelius said.
Now the government watchdog group Judicial Watch has filed a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services to obtain records about the navigators, who are costing taxpayers some $67 million.
HHS has hired about 50,000 navigators, many of whom work for community organizing groups that have received grants from the federal government.
Judicial Watch is seeking records related to contracts awarded to the groups and records regarding the federal requirements for the navigators, including background checks and qualifications.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said the Obamacare navigator program “seems as corrupt as any Chicago patronage operation – and is a danger to the privacy of millions of Americans who are participating in Obamacare.”
“The use of Obamacare navigators and the Healthcare.gov website should come with consumer warnings,” Fitton said. “The Obama administration’s illegal secrecy about these Obamacare navigators should make Americans very nervous.”
National Review Online has reported that among the groups to whom federal tax money is being delivered is Local 100 United Labor Unions, which Judicial Watch said is a New Orleans group run by ACORN founder Wade Rathke.
Local 100 is a “sub-grantee” providing navigators for the Southern United Neighborhoods group, which received a $600,678 grant to promote Obamacare enrollment, National Review said. The union also received a $270,193 grant for similar work in Arkansas and a $486,123 grant for Louisiana.
Also included in the drop locations for federal money was the National Urban League, which was paid $376,000 for its Obamacare outreach in Texas, and “leftwing groups” such as Planned Parenthood and the Virginia Poverty Law Center Inc., the watchdog organization reported.
“Serious questions have also been raised about the requirements to be an Obamacare navigator and the screening given to those who are hired,” Judicial Watch said.
‘Vague policies against fraud’
Last August, 13 state attorneys general warned the federal government that training and safeguards in place for the navigators were inadequate.
They said in a letter that the background system “pales in comparison” to what is typically required for workers in programs receiving federal health dollars.
“It is not enough simply to adopt vague policies against fraud,” they wrote.
In January, National Review said as many as 43 convicted criminals were working as navigators in California alone.
WND reported state lawmakers, stunned by the federal government’s apparent oversight, were taking action.
The Goldwater Institute said Arizona, Colorado and Virginia were among the states considering laws that would attempt to safeguard Americans’ sensitive identity information from “third-party Obamacare navigators” who have not undergone background checks.
In Colorado, Republican state Rep. Janak Joshi, a doctor for more than 30 years, affirmed that “patient privacy is of paramount importance.”
“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,” he said.
The institute said the bills that have been introduced establish background checks and disqualification procedures for felons seeking positions that would give them access to bank account numbers, tax information and other personal details.
The legislation also would let state authorities revoke Obamacare navigator grants for negligent loss of private information.
“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 Goldwater Institute health-care policy analyst Christina Corieri, who worked with lawmakers to draft the legislation. “It’s now the duty of state lawmakers to forge their own protections for citizens.”
More than 120 “navigator” grants have been issued in 34 states. The list of recipients is a veritable “who’s who” of left-wing political groups, including organizations with ACORN ties such as Southern United Neighborhoods and the Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation.
The latter group recently settled a $1.725 million lawsuit for fraud committed under another government program.
Federal rules don’t 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 bills – which also are being considered in Louisiana and South Carolina – would demand background checks and bar those with felony convictions or misdemeanors, involving fraud or dishonesty.
The existence of fraud among Obamacare navigators has been documented by investigative reporter James O’Keefe.
“Lying about incomes and smoker status came natural to the navigators we encountered,” he said.
O’Keefe released a video revealing that navigators advise undercover actors to leave cash unreported.
See the video: