The FTC's Greisman worries that some scammers will exploit the government's efforts to better educate consumers by pretending to be certified "navigators." The administration has announced $54 million in grants for navigator groups, which will be tasked by law to help uninsured Americans sign up for benefits in the exchanges.
All navigators must be impartial, certified and trained, said Richard Olague, spokesman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Some states may require fingerprinting or background checks, Olague said. But it isn't yet clear whether navigators will be allowed to use telemarketing or unsolicited emails in their outreach and education efforts.
"What we're very likely to see is (fake navigators saying), 'For an upfront fee we can help you,' but there shouldn't be an upfront fee, it should be free," Greisman said.
She said her agency is waiting for the Department of Health and Human Services to finalize rules for the navigators before advising consumers on how best to distinguish real navigators from fake ones.
With less than three months left before exchanges open, the clock is ticking.
I'm betting the line between an Obamacare Navigator and an Obamacare Scam Artist is going to be pretty thin. I doubt these navigators will have much training, will be well supervised, and will be under a lot of pressure to enroll bodies (and tempted to skim a bit on the side).
Watch this program. They'll be plenty of abuse to write about.
Also, check The Hill: HHS pushes ObamaCare enrollment with new grants
Much attention has focused on the law's "navigators" — people who will help consumers shop for health insurance — but Wednesday's announcement suggests that federal funds will support a range of similar positions.
The grants were distributed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to "complement" the "navigator" program, according to HHS.
"Health centers are excited to help individuals in their communities take advantage of the benefits" under the Affordable Care Act, said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield in a statement.
"Having trained, face-to-face assistance in enrollment from trusted resources at local health centers means that more people will get the help they need."
Curious to see what databases these trusted resources outside the Civil Service system and Security Checks are going to have. I bet sooner than later a trusted-resources thumb drive is going to go missing with names, and socials, and all sorts of information these folks need for their outreach.