Republican controlled states intend to toughen the rules for health exchange enrollment workers.
The states under Republican leadership across the country are now adding additional requirements for workers who were hired to fill the insurance jobs that assist people in enrolling for health plans under the Affordable Care Act.
They will now be required to undergo criminal background checks and/or obtain licensing.
The goal of this move is to help to reduce the perceived privacy and security risks that many consumers have associated with sharing their personal information with the people in these insurance jobs. Over 12 Republican states have now passed legislation to make stricter requirements for positions as these enrollment counselors. There are also bills in other states that are currently pending.
The federal government does not currently require people in these insurance jobs to undergo criminal background checks.
That said while they may not be required for the health plan enrollment counselors by the federal government’s laws, these “navigators” are subject to the rules that are set within their own states, as well.
Last month, the Governor of Arizona, Jan Brewer, signed a bill that required the health exchange navigators to have to undergo licensing and background checks. Supporters of this type of strategy say that putting these requirements in place can help to give consumers greater protection against identity theft. Last week, there was a unanimous approval by the legislature in Louisiana for a similar measure.
That said, there is no indication that there has ever been any misuse of personal information from consumers by any of the enrollment navigators in any of the states, including those in which the added measures are being put into place. Carnegie Mellon University criminologist, Alfred Blumstein, who has written about employing ex-offenders stated that “I have no idea what’s motivating them, but I have seen efforts over the past few years to make Obamacare fall apart, and this may be part of that.”
According to Blumstein, it is not unreasonable to require background checks for these insurance jobs, but he also warned that there shouldn’t necessarily be a broad regulation against the hiring of individuals who do happen to have criminal records, pointing out that “an individual got into a barroom brawl and was convicted of assault, that may likely not be a candidate for doing identity theft.”