National Review Online has confirmed at least one instance where a convicted felon is working as an Obamacare navigator.
Late last year, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius told Congress it was “possible” convicted felons could be working as navigators, prompting concerns about privacy and identity theft. (When navigators help sign people up for health coverage under Obamacare, they have access to confidential information including Social Security numbers, financial information, and health records.)
Open records obtained from Connecticut show that one navigator for that state’s exchange was allowed to work despite a Class B Felony conviction (Connecticut’s Class B Felonies are punishable by 1 to 20 years in prison).
AccessHealthCT declined to disclose the navigator’s name or the charge associated with the conviction, citing privacy protections. It noted the felon navigator’s sentence had been suspended, and the criminal act had occurred more than 19 years ago. The navigator has had no convictions since then, according to AccessHealthCT.
Records also showed that three Connecticut navigators had been approved to work despite prior misdemeanors in the past decade.
Of the 346 applicants for navigator positions in Connecticut, 21 were flagged in background checks. Among them were people with multiple felony convictions and recent felony convictions. Of those, 17 were dropped from the program.
Connecticut conducts checks of navigator applicants’ state and federal criminal histories, though records say that “an arrest or conviction does not necessarily exempt the candidate from a position at Access Health CT.” However, the records identify several “serious felony” convictions that “indicate the potential for harm to others,” which are automatically disqualifying.
Last week, NRO reported that one in seven navigators for New Mexico’s exchange triggered a hit in the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s criminal database, though that does not necessarily indicate a criminal conviction. New Mexico has among the most stringent navigator background-check requirements in the nation.
In many states, no background checks whatsoever are required for navigators.