A new House panel report slammed the navigator program, calling the bulk of Obamacare’s helpers untrustworthy, rule violators and fraud enablers, while saying they’re putting consumers and their personal information at risk.
Navigators have been misleading enrollees, Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said, and haven’t done enough to keep secure consumers’ health information, Social Security numbers, annual income and other sensitive tax data.
Worse yet, navigators have violated HHS rules and procedures, and even encouraged applicants to commit tax fraud, the committee said Monday.
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“Reports indicate that navigators gave consumers incorrect information about the enrollment process; some navigators went so far as to encourage consumers to commit tax fraud by underreporting income in order to qualify for ObamaCare’s health insurance subsidies,” the report said.
There also have been reports of navigators advising applicants to lie about smoking habits to obtain a lower monthly premium.
For instance, the report pointed out that 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.
Additionally, the report said “some navigators 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.”
The report is based on briefings the Oversight Committee conducted with top administration officials, including Gary Cohen, the director of the agency in charge of the navigator program. The Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also said HHS officials learned of navigator incidents from various news reports due to the “complete lack of any internal oversight.”