Covered California Stands By Enrollment Counselors With Criminal Pasts
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Kimberly Mallory was just one of hundreds of CBS13 viewers who reached out both online and on the phone to share her frustrations that dozens of insurance counselors with Covered California have criminal pasts.
Her daughter recently enrolled in the program.
“I was just completely shocked that they would put somebody in charge that could steal, you know possibly steal your information,” Mallory said.
According to data provided to CBS13 by Covered California, 31 of the nearly 4,000 working to sign up people for new policies have convictions. One was for harm and injury to a child. A second was convicted of two counts of forgery, while a third has burglary and forgery convictions spanning two decades.
Still, they’re allowed access to the personal information of the people that they are enrolling.
Dana Howard with Covered California says all applicants go through scrutiny to make sure the counselor has changed their ways.
“We don’t believe there is any heightened reason for consumers to be alarmed,” he said.
But why would they take the risk of entrusting people with criminal backgrounds with the personal information of Californians seeking insurance?
“It’s about the Civil Rights Act,” he said. We cannot just wantonly say that we’re not going to hire or certify an individual just because they have a criminal background.”
Employment attorney John Kennedy says there are a number of laws to protect people from being automatically denied work because of criminal histories.
But at the same time, he says, hiring convicts could leave the insurance exchange vulnerable.
“You’re exposing yourself, so you better make sure you’ve done a good job and say ‘We’re comfortable that these people can have our certification,’” Kennedy said.
People like Mallory say that doesn’t seem right.
“You don’t put people who have committed fraud in that kind of position,” she said.