Concerns Raised Over Exchange Workers With Criminal Records
Two Republican state lawmakers are calling for a hearing about Covered California's hiring practices and fraud prevention efforts after learning that 31 individuals with criminal records became enrollment counselors for the exchange, the Los Angeles Times' "Money & Co." reports.
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.
According to the Times, counselors with criminal records make up less than 1% of the 3,729 enrollment counselors statewide.
On Wednesday, Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway (R-Tulare) and Assembly member Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert) sent a letter asking Covered California to attend a hearing and requesting information on the hiring of individuals convicted of finance-related crimes.
The letter states, "We understand that individuals who have paid their debt to society deserve a second chance, but felons convicted of financial crimes should be disqualified from being hired by the state."
The lawmakers added, "Allowing these individuals to have access to private information, such as Social Security numbers, would be like giving an auto thief a set of car keys."
Covered California's Response
In response to the letter, Covered California said its background check system is secure. The exchange noted that it thoroughly reviewed:
- The applicant's age when they committed the offense;
- The nature of the offense;
- Relation of the offense to duties as an enrollment counselor; and
- The date the crime was committed (Terhune, "Money & Co.," Los Angeles Times, 1/30).