Monday, December 16, 2013

House Report: Ill-Trained Obamacare Navigators Encouraging Fraud, Jeopardizing Private Info

... [A] House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report on the Obamacare Navigators that will be released Monday. It has found that Obamacare Navigators have been giving Americans misinformation and, in some cases, actively encouraging enrollees to commit fraud in order to raise their subsidies. To complicate matters further, there is no way for Americans to find out whether their Navigators are properly certified. 
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said at a Congressional hearing that it was “possible” for convicted felons to become Navigators. The report, titled Risks of Fraud and Misinformation with ObamaCare Outreach Campaign: How Navigator and Assister Program Mismanagement Endangers Consumers, concludes that is only one of many worries Americans should have about Navigators.... 
The report also discovered that Obamacare Navigators have "encouraged consumers to commit tax fraud by underreporting income in order to qualify for ObamaCare’s health insurance subsidies." Some have "assisted applicants before completing their 5 to 20 hour online training course, and others took custody of paper applications and mailed them for the applicant, violating the rule that applicants must mail in the application themselves." 
For instance, the Committee found:
  • Navigators from the Urban League of Dallas were captured on video encouraging applicants to lie on their health insurance application so the applicants could qualify for tax subsidies. 
  • Navigators were also recorded advising an applicant to lie about her smoking habits to obtain a lower monthly premium. 
  • It was later discovered that two of the so-called Navigators involved in the incident were assisting consumers with their applications even though they had not completed their training and certification requirements. 
  • One self-identified Navigator gave a television interview in which she told viewers blatantly incorrect information—that applicants’ credit scores could impact their eligibility for certain plans. It later came to light that the woman was not a certified Navigator but rather a volunteer with a Navigator organization....
The report also concluded that Navigators were... unprepared to handle situations in which consumers mentioned unreported income because the Obama administration did not even anticipate such situations. Gary Cohen, the director of the agency overseeing the Navigators, previously stated, "this could be one of the areas where it is a little beyond the ability of your average Navigator," when asked whether Navigators knew how to deal with Americans who may be engaging in tax fraud or intending to under-report income....