Thirteen Republican attorneys general have set an Aug. 28 deadline for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to respond to their concerns about the potential dangers posed by Obamacare navigators.
In a letter dated Aug. 14, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrissey and attorneys general from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas contend that Obamacare navigators, who will not have to undergo criminal background checks or fingerprinting, pose a potential risk to consumers, whose health and tax information will be readily available for them to access, and could lead to rampant fraud.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi told Fox News on Friday that the HHS has already allocated $67 million for the navigators, some of whom are expected to earn as much as $48 per hour to register consumers on the health care exchanges.
"A navigator is someone who is hired by the federal government to assist consumers who wish to enroll in insurance programs under the Affordable Care Act," Bondi explained.
"Because of time constraints – the HHS [is] cutting back on the requirements to become a navigator. Meaning, they're not going to be doing background checks. They're not going to be fingerprinting these people. And it's more than navigators, it's the people that assist the navigators," she asserted.
The letter to the HHS also notes that navigators' training hours have already been reduced from 30 hours to 20, which the attorneys general believe could lead the "inadequately trained personnel" to become "more prone to misappropriate – accidentally or intentionally – the private data of consumers," or worse.
"These navigators will have consumers' most personal and private information – tax return information, social security information," Bondi added. "And our biggest fear, of course, is identity theft. Even federal requirements for census takers are tougher than the requirements for navigators."
State officials also highlight that Obamacare navigators will not be required to abide by the same consumer safeguards as insurance agents or brokers because they won't be required to obtain state licenses, and are not liable if consumers' information is not protected.
The 13 attorneys general also state that these concerns are compounded by the fact that nonprofit and heath care organizations will only have 32 days to screen, train and hire the Obamacare navigators, which they believe could lead to the hiring of criminals or other unforeseen problems.
According to former Sen. Tim Hutchison (R-Ark.), two thirds of Americans will qualify for the exchanges, and believes that the role of the navigators won't be to facilitate a "helpline where people call in to find out what the qualify for," he told Fox Business' Neil Cavuto on Friday. Instead, he described the navigators as being "thousands and thousands of aggressive recruiters going out to recruit people to sign up to enroll for these exchanges."