Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning has joined with 12 other Attorneys General raising concerns about consumer privacy and the federal health care law.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the AGs complain that not enough has been done to protect the privacy of consumers who will use marketplace navigators to find health insurance coverage under the federal law. The law goes into effect October 1st.
Bruning says time is running out to properly train navigators.
“The federal government doesn’t do anything in five-and-a-half weeks. I mean there’s nothing that happens in five-and-a-half weeks,” Bruning tells Kevin Thomas, host of Drive Time Lincoln on Nebraska Radio Network affiliate KLIN. “In fact, the only thing they have done is they realized they were up against it, and so they reduced the training requirements from 30 hours to 20 hours.”
The marketplace navigators will help consumers navigate the new health care exchanges set up in each state, helping them to understand which insurance policy fits their needs.
The letter points out those navigators will be given private information to enter onto insurance applications, including very personal health disclosures as well as financial information, including Social Security numbers.
The Attorneys General charge DHHS has not implemented adequate regulations to insure that navigators will not misuse information, writing in the letter that, “Consumer privacy will be catch-as-catch-can in each program.”
The letter states DHHS has no realistic plan to prevent identity theft and that the proposed consumer safeguards are “woefully substandard”.
The federal government recently awarded a $562,000 grant to Community Action of Nebraska to establish a marketplace navigator network in the state. Another $37,000 grant was awarded the Ponca Tribe to help enroll Native Americans in 15 counties.
Bruning says the lack of regulations by the federal government places an unfair burden on Community Action to insure navigators are properly trained.
With October 1st fast approaching, Bruning worries the process will be rushed and consumer private information will be exposed.
“That’s why we sent the letter. We’re like, ‘Hey, administration, we think you need to think about these privacy issues and who you’re going to hire to take care of some of the most private information that individuals have.’”
Kevin Thomas, KLIN, contributed to this report.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [1 min.]