The federal government has launched a widespread campaign to ensure consumers that health insurance exchanges are protected from fraud, just a few hours after a Congressional report warned that the navigator program has weaknesses that expose it to potential fraud.
To help protect consumers, the Obama administration opened a call center for consumers to report fraud concerns, initiated a rapid response system to address any privacy and security breaches and will publish a tip sheet advising consumers how to protect themselves, Politico reported.
"We are sending a clear message that we will not tolerate anyone seeking to defraud consumers in the health insurance marketplace," U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters Wednesday. She and other Cabinet leaders and state officials attended a meeting convened by the White House to prevent fraudsters from taking advantage of consumer confusion regarding the reform law, according to Kaiser Health News.
In particular, Sebelius and other federal officials warned consumers to be suspicious of anyone impersonating navigators, who help educate consumers about the reform law, providing impartial information and facilitating exchange enrollment. The Obama administration said navigators don't ask consumers for money to enroll in an exchange, the New York Times reported.
But just a few hours before the Obama administration's announcement, the House Oversight and Government Reform released a report, criticizing the White House for failing to certify navigators so that fraudsters don't impersonate them.
"Given the stories about how scammers are gearing up to take advantage of the tremendous confusion caused by Obamacare, Americans are at an increased risk of being the victim of fraud and identity theft because of the administration's poor development of its outreach program," the report said.
In response, a senior Obama administration official said navigators have successfully aided similar enrollment efforts with "very, very little" evidence of any problems or controversy. "These are people who are absolutely committed to doing the right thing by the people they are servicing," the official told Politico.