Topics: Obamacare

Kathleen Sebelius says it 'is possible' for felons to work as Obamacare navigators

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke,Obamacare,Health and Human Services,Kathleen Sebelius,John Cornyn,Healthcare.gov

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius told Congress today it's possible felons could be hired as Obamacare navigators.

Asked by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, if felons could be hired, Sebelius said, "that is possible."

Sebelius also said it's not the government's job to vet individuals hired as navigators to help people with Obamacare.

Government contractors "have taken the responsibility to screen their individual navigators and make sure they are sufficiently trained for the job," Sebelius said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing.

Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., asked Sebelius if she would support a nationwide requirement for navigators to undergo a background check.

"I think if that's the will of Congress, we'd certainly take a look at that," Sebelius said, after noting that the current HHS rules regarding navigators "very much mirror what many states have in place for licensed insurance agents."

The role of navigators in helping Americans enroll in Obamacare has given rise to concerns of fraud and other manipulation of the private information used during the enrollment process.

"[A] broken website could put individuals’ sensitive information in jeopardy – and this isn’t the only risk to personal privacy," House Education and the Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline, R-Minn., and Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., said of their efforts to learn about union-allied groups receiving navigator grants.

"Right now navigators with strong ties to labor unions are collecting sensitive information with questionable safeguards," Kline and Roe said in a jointly issued statement.

"Congress has a responsibility to ensure individuals’ privacy is protected and contact with an Obamacare navigator doesn’t lead to a phone call from union organizers,” they said.

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