HealthSourceRI Navigator Background Checks Not Required


On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius acknowledged to Senators that no federal law requires background checks of people serving as “navigators” under President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act (ACA) legislation, commonly known as “ObamaCare.”  The role of the navigators is to assist Americans with the process of enrolling in health plans through the health benefits exchanges created by the legislation.

Upon questioning, Sebelius said that “it’s possible” that a convicted felon could become a navigator, but suggested that states could require background checks.

A spokesperson for Rhode Island’s health benefits exchange, HealthSourceRI, reported to the Ocean State Current that state employees who work for the exchange have background checks, as do all employees of Connextions, the contractor the state has hired for contact center services.  However, the email from Dara Chadwick states that “navigators receive criminal background checks” only “if the agency by which the navigator is employed requires such a check.”

Chadwick did not have information about whether the agencies in question actually perform such checks, but she did provide the Current with a press release listing the agencies, noting an additional one not included.  Last week, the Current contacted each of the 20 agencies by email, with the following results, and will update the list with any new information that arrives after publication.

  • Amos House: Does not require navigator background checks.
  • Blackstone Valley Community Health Care: No response.
  • Care New Engand: No response.
  • Center for Southeast Asians: No response.
  • Comprehensive Community Action/Family Health Services: Checks all employees.
  • East Bay Community Action Program: No response.
  • Family Resources Community Action: No response.
  • John Hope Settlement House: No response.
  • Latino Public Radio: No response.
  • Mental Health Association: No response.
  • Narragansett Indian Health Center: No response.
  • Providence Community Health Centers: No response.
  • Providence Community Library: No response.
  • Rhode Island Parent Information Network: Checks all employees.
  • The Providence Center: Checks all employees.
  • Thundermist Health Center: Checks all employees.
  • Tri-Town Community Action Agency: No response.
  • United Way of RI: No response.
  • WellOne Primary Medical and Dental Care: No response.
  • Wood River Health Services: Checks all employees.

  • Sailor5552

    No background checks and no requirement that these people be licensed to discuss health insurance.
    They should be licensed by the states they operate in, just as the rest of all individuals in the insurance business are required to have!
    I've spent years in the sale of life and health insurance and this is a dicrace and the biggest poerplay for on sixth of the US economy!

    where's the RI insurance commissioner in all this?

    • sailor5552

      whoops, This is a "disgrace and a powerplay!"

  • joe bernstein

    This sounds like a great opportunity for identity theft

  • observer

    Justin, your ? assumes that criminal background checks are SOP. I don't think they are. Certainly, if someone is working in a day care, school bus driver, police force, etc. But that is to protect vulnerable populations. The every day people we associate with in business have as much opportunity as navigators to obtain financial info and harm us if that is their intention. This whole line of inquiry is a great way to alarm people and get them worried about ID security. Limbaugh segs right into ads for Lifelock or such security services from his criticism of Obamacare. It's hard to know where his politics stops and his advertising begins.

  • Guest

    I have to agree with observer. If I have to use a navigator to sign up for the ACA…and the website states that there is no guarantee of security or privacy…then I guess I'll just have to trust the person signing me up. After all, I have to give up all kinds of info when I ask for a loan….wait…that's my choice, not mandatory like the ACA. Well, you know what I mean. Why should the Feds have to assure any level of privacy for a program that is mandatory?

    • Russ

      Nothing requires you to use a navigator.

      What's funny is you folks have such little faith that private industry can handle this without government regulation. So much for wanting less regulation, eh? Nice one.

  • Guest

    Russ … drink heavily AFTER you post, please.

  • kritikl

    @Sailor5552, First of all a health exchange in RI approved by the State of RI and this Exchange is named Health Source RI Which is not an insurance company and so it is a third party entity. Additionally they are independent of the insurance carrier companies that provide/sell plans. This exchange provides un-biased service. Just like Health Source, navigators are independent individuals that provide un-biased services of completing health insurance application individuals and many of whom work from hospitals, clinics etc. BTW Navigators do not charge individuals any fee and are not allowed to get remuneration for doing the work of completing individual application. Navigators are trained individuals and therefore because of the type of work they do, they are not licenced.