Bill Banning Exchange Workers With Criminal Records Fails
On Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee struck down in a 6-12 vote a bill (AB 1829) that would have prevented individuals convicted of certain felonies from becoming enrollment counselors for the state health insurance exchange, the Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports (Mason, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 4/22).
According to exchange records, 31 individuals convicted of felonies or misdemeanors were approved as enrollment counselors between June 2013 and November 2013.
Some convictions date to the 1980s and 1990s, with charges including:
- Driving under the influence;
- Petty theft;
- Sale and possession of drugs;
- Shoplifting; and
- Welfare fraud.
Counselors with criminal records make up less than 1% of the 3,729 enrollment counselors statewide (California Healthline, 1/31).
Debate Over Bill
Assembly member Connie Conway (R-Tulare), the bill's sponsor, said that allowing individuals convicted of financial crimes to become counselors could put consumers' private information at risk.
However, critics of the bill said it did not account for individuals' specific circumstances and was discriminatory under federal civil rights laws.
According to the "PolitiCal," all Republicans on the committee voted in support of the bill, while nearly all Democrats opposed the measure.
In a statement after the hearing, Conway said, "I believe in second chances, but not giving those convicted of forgery or fraud access to people's Social Security numbers or tax returns."
She added, "Today's vote by the majority party means that consumers who sign up for a plan through Covered California will still be at risk of having their private information compromised by those who have committed financial crimes."
However, Health Committee Chair Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) said the exchange already has put in "a lot of hard work ... to ensure the privacy protection" of consumers ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 4/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.