WV Attorney General: ObamaCare navigators a real identity-theft risk

posted at 6:31 pm on August 26, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

This probably doesn’t come as much of a shock any more to Hot Air readers, but the gap between deadlines and performance in ObamaCare might still surprise Washington Post readers.  Over the weekend, the Post noted “a certain amount of panic” in the medical-provider community over the “scramble” to get ObamaCare exchanges open and ready to service consumers who, er, have little choice but to comply with their mandate, even as businesses and insurers get their own delayed:

With a key deadline approaching, state officials across the country are scrambling to get the Affordable Care Act’s complex computer systems up and running, reviewing contingency plans and, in some places, preparing for delays.

Oct. 1 is the scheduled launch date for the health-care law’s insurance marketplaces — online sites where uninsured people will be able to shop for coverage, sometimes using a government subsidy to purchase a plan. An estimated 7 million people are expected to use these portals to purchase health coverage in 2014.

The task is unprecedented in its complexity, requiring state and federal data systems to transmit reams of information between one another. Some officials in charge of setting up the systems say that the tight deadlines have forced them to take shortcuts when it comes to testing and that some of the bells and whistles will not be ready.

“There’s a certain level of panic about how much needs to be accomplished but a general sense that the bare minimum to get the system functional will be done,” said Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. “It will by no means be as smooth and as seamless as people expected.”

What “bells and whistles” won’t be ready for the system that Barack Obama refuses to delay?  Well, one bell (or is it a whistle?) will be income verification on claims for calculating subsidies.  This part should have been easy; the IRS runs this part of the ACA, and they have had three years to integrate its systems into a national interface with state exchanges. Instead of having a good way to ensure against fraudulent subsidy payouts, we’ll all just be on the honor system next year.  What could go wrong?

However, thanks to one of the “shortcuts” (as the Post calls them), fraud will likely be a two-way street.  HHS will hire an army of “navigators” who will assist consumers in selecting a health insurance plan that meets their needs — and who will have access to all of the private identity data that government usually insists we keep private.  West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (no relation*) raises a big red flag on the potential for massive identity theft:

But in its rush to get this taxpayer-funded marketing scheme off the ground, the Administration left consumer privacy behind.  Federal regulations governing the program don’t require these groups to do background checks to weed out criminals and would-be identity thieves. Nor do they need to be licensed, bonded, or insured– though they may choose themselves to take these steps or perform background checks

Worse still, although the law passed in 2010, community groups seeking to become navigators received grants 32 business days before the new healthcare exchanges are set to open.  That’s not much time to screen, hire, and train thousands of new workers before they start entering people’s personal information in insurance applications.

States are scrambling to plug the hole.  State attorneys general are charged with protecting our consumers.  So together with twelve other state AGs, I’ve asked the Administration for information to better assess how we can protect our constituents from the program’s risk of identity theft.  We’re waiting for a response.

Morrisey warns that the risk isn’t hypothetical, and hasn’t been since its passage:

Those who would dismiss these concerns haven’t been paying attention.  Identity thieves are already cashing in on Obamacare.  Since 2010, rip-off artists have phoned, emailed, and gone door-to-door preying on consumers interested in the new health law.  These phony government representatives resulted in more than 1,100 individual complaints to the Federal Trade Commission in May alone.

And there’s money in them thar … bills:

Stealing a medical identity is more lucrative than other kinds of identity theft.  It’s been reported that a social security number sells for $1 on the black market.  But a person’s address, Social Security number, Medicare number, and medical history may bring in $50 up front, plus thousands more for the con men who use the information to buy prescription drugs and scam the consumer’s insurance company out of payments.  Consumers are left facing bogus charges and ruined credit scores.  Undoing the damage — if it’s even possible — can require countless hours of frustration and effort.

Who will be most at risk for this kind of theft? Those who have to rely on navigators most.  Let’s go back to the Post to see who those people might be:

Officials with the District of Columbia’s Health Link decided to put off building a Spanish version of its Web site until later this year, giving its staff bandwidth to complete other tasks they see more critical to the launch.

Until then, the District will have bilingual call-center workers and in-person helpers who will be able to help Spanish speakers navigate the site.

This is, of course, in the nation’s capital, and the one place where the Obama administration might be expected to showcase any successes, and minimize the pitfalls, in the ACA. They have had three years and seven months to complete the website in both English and Spanish. Instead, they have nearly run out of time in both languages, which means that the Spanish-only consumers will have to trust the navigators more, and increase the risk of identity theft above that of the general population.

Maybe the administration might want to consider una demora in this part of the ACA, too.

* – Patrick is one of the disreputable “one-S” members of the Morrissey clan. We advise you to watch your Guinnesses around him.


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Comments

The gop deserves equal billing since the wont really defund it….it’s BOEHNERCARE!!!

PappyD61 on August 26, 2013 at 6:36 PM

When we have single-payer I’m sure your data will be totally secure with those IRS-type bureaucrats. The NSA will help out to make double-sure!

slickwillie2001 on August 26, 2013 at 6:41 PM

They have had three years and seven months to complete the website in both English and Spanish.

ObamaCare was designed to fail. Then they could move right on to a single payer system – which is what they wanted in the first place.

Unfortunately for them, the 2010 elections gave Republicans control of the House.

The last thing Democrats needed was Republicans looking over their shoulder………hence the mad dash to implement ObamaCare.

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

GarandFan on August 26, 2013 at 6:44 PM

ObamaCare navigators a real identity-theft risk

Most people likely wouldn’t let these people on their porch much less in their personal business.

CW on August 26, 2013 at 6:47 PM

ACORN has been reborn and will now secure all of your personal information, demographics, etcetera. And you will take it. And you will like it. And if you complain you are a rrrrrrracist.

/Now bend over America… and don’t you DARE complain, ya hear?

Key West Reader on August 26, 2013 at 6:49 PM

The Obama administration will blame those eeeeevil foot-stealing doctors and greedy insurers if your identity is stolen. They’re not taking the fall. No shame in their game.

Philly on August 26, 2013 at 6:50 PM

Most people likely wouldn’t let these people on their porch much less in their personal business.

CW on August 26, 2013 at 6:47 PM

I’m really excited about SEIU and ACORN coming to my door demanding my DOB, SSN, employment information, earnings statements, titles, deeds, children’s names, names of relatives, blood type, medical history, pharmacy history, etc.

And I hear the “onsite physical exam” is a real shocker. I think Sandra Fluke should go first.

Key West Reader on August 26, 2013 at 6:54 PM

With a key deadline approaching, state officials across the country are scrambling to get the Affordable Care Act’s complex computer systems up and running, reviewing contingency plans and, in some places, preparing for delays.
==============================

Interesting,maybes if they would of taken about 2% of the NSA time,
they might have had the dirty little deed done by now!

(sarc)

canopfor on August 26, 2013 at 7:02 PM

I’m really excited about SEIU and ACORN coming to my door demanding my DOB, SSN, employment information, earnings statements, titles, deeds, children’s names, names of relatives, blood type, medical history, pharmacy history, etc.

Key West Reader on August 26, 2013 at 6:54 PM

As if the domestic spying programs don’t already give them all that information and more. I’m sure they’ll ask those questions to kill time while they grill your kids about where the guns are kept.

Happy Nomad on August 26, 2013 at 7:13 PM

Until then, the District will have bilingual call-center workers and in-person helpers who will be able to help Spanish speakers navigate the site.

What about Lithuanian translators?

If I don’t have to speak to them in English, I choose Lithuanian.

Vagys

MichaelGabriel on August 26, 2013 at 7:14 PM

The way money has to be thrown around to try to get this done, it’s mind-boggling. Like a plague of locusts. Money, money, money. Quick, do this, do that. Pretend this is working, pretend that is working. Here’s a $100k salary, print out papers, send out forms, fill in check boxes.

/the horror

Paul-Cincy on August 26, 2013 at 7:16 PM

MichaelGabriel on August 26, 2013 at 7:14 PM

:)
I hear Austrian is also a good language to use.

chemman on August 26, 2013 at 7:20 PM

chemman on August 26, 2013 at 7:20 PM

And what about my relatives?

The ones up in the Upper Peninsula all speak Uper.

MichaelGabriel on August 26, 2013 at 7:29 PM

Identify Theft?

Unemployed drifters hired at random from off the street with no background checks for criminal records and with total access to private information including SSNs. What could possibly go wrong?

MaiDee on August 26, 2013 at 8:00 PM

the Spanish-only consumers will have to trust the navigators more

“Spanish-only” customers of Obamacare? So it’s no longer a requirement of U.S. citizenship for foreigners to speak English, or are we now just admitting that the requirement –like the oath — is nothing more than a joke?

Or will these “Spanish-only” customers be illegal aliens who aren’t supposed to be eligible for Obamacare subsidies — but who we all know will be getting them anyway (just like they already receive billions of dollars’ worth of food stamps, welfare payments, etc., that they’re not legally entitled to receive).

AZCoyote on August 26, 2013 at 8:34 PM

Really? Something connected to Obumuhcare poses a “real identity-theft risk”? As opposed to what–a job-cremating, economy-snuffing life’n'blood-sucking leech?

stukinIL4now on August 26, 2013 at 9:19 PM

Soft crime like this is on a big uptick. We’ve seen an increase in fraud on items for sale on Craigs List in our state. One guy even got threatening emails when he didn’t try to cash the fake cashier check. The law says it’s too hard to track so they can’t do anything about it. Seems like this would qualify for an fbi investigation since it crosses state lines and involves banks.

Kissmygrits on August 27, 2013 at 9:53 AM