TOPEKA – (November 8, 2013) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt this week called on the Obama administration to step up consumer privacy protections as it implements the Affordable Care Act.
“I’m concerned that the well-publicized shortcomings in the new health exchange website are just the tip of the iceberg,” Schmidt said.
Schmidt and nine other state attorneys general sent a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius raising concerns about consumer protections under the new law. In addition to expressing general concerns about data security, the attorneys general focused on the lack of background checks or other controls to ensure the integrity of the people who become “navigators.” The navigators assist consumers in signing up for coverage.
Because the navigators have access to consumers’ personal information, the lack of screening creates a risk of identity theft or other privacy violations.
“[T]he federal standards for navigators provide inadequate consumer protections to prevent the stealing of personal information,” the attorneys general wrote.
In August, before the October 1 implementation deadline for the new law, the attorneys general sent a previous letter to Secretary Sebelius raising concerns about the lack of background checks on navigators and the risk that consumer privacy could be at risk. They have not received a response to that previous letter.
This week, the Secretary testified before a United States Senate committee that it is possible for people with a felony conviction to become navigators with access to consumers’ personal information.
In addition to Schmidt, the letter was signed by the attorneys general from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and West Virginia. Copies of the August letter and yesterday’s letter are available at http://1.usa.gov/1bdMv2g and http://1.usa.gov/1hmUZNg.