Controversy Surrounds ‘Covered California’

State officials in California estimate that they will need 20,000 people to help sign up millions of Californians for a new health insurance exchange called Covered California.

This need for assistance has caused many to question what level of screening these 20,000 aids should receive, since they will have access to highly sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, tax returns, and income data.

While state officials call for the maximum amount of screening possible to deter fraud and protect consumers, critics argue the state’s plan is too invasive and will prevent too many minorities from helping at a time when they are needed.

In particular, the state’s proposal to perform fingerprint background checks on enrollees has come under fire the most. Critics worry that the requirement to get fingerprined will deter minorities from volunteering and may harm well-qualified applicants.

However, many believe that fingerprinting candidates is necessary in order to reveal criminal information that may not be available from a simple background check. Given the high instance of embezzlement, identity theft, and fraud, they believe background checks and fingerprinting are an essential part of consumer protection.

In addition to these issues, the state will also consider what types of crimes will prevent someone from enrolling others, as well as who will fund the $1.4 million required for background checks.