SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Covered California insurance counselors with criminal pasts are signing people up for health care coverage in California.

State Sen. Ted Gaines (R-Roseville) is more than concerned after Covered California confirms to CBS13 that 31 of nearly 4,000 insurance counselors working to sign people up for coverage bring criminal pasts with them.

“That is a real problem,” he said.

The conservative magazine The National Review reports the following:

“…one navigator has repeat forgery offenses – one in 1982, then another in 1994, with a burglary in between.”

another had “…two forgery convictions in 1988, in addition to a domestic-violence charge a decade later.”

“Another committed welfare fraud in 1999 and had shoplifted on at least two prior occasions.”

The Covered California website boasts its representatives undergo criminal background checks, but it doesn’t mention that they’ve hired people with rap sheets.

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Covered California Spokesman Dana Howard said he could not confirm the individual counselors’ past crimes.

“These people, they’ve done their crime, they’ve done their time,” he said. “They’ve paid back to society. They have been rehabilitated.”

Gaines says allowing people with criminal convictions to handle sensitive personal information, including social security numbers and birthdates opens the door to identity theft.

“That’s an issue where they ought to be working in a different capacity for the organization,” he said.

Howard told CBS13 by phone that the counselors, who are paid through state and federal funding, only have access to the information of patients they’ve signed up.

As to why they were not let go, he said, “It’s just not appropriate, it’s not legal, and we would remiss to say we’re just not going to fire anyone who has a criminal history.”

Gaines disagrees: “If their crimes are related to the certain types of information that they’re gathering they ought to be found different types of jobs.”

Covered California says the counselors’ criminal pasts date back at least a decade, and in most cases more than that.

This comes at a time when reports are surfacing that Covered California will be $78 million in debt by next year.

Raising more concerns, officials just last week announced they’re leasing one of the largest office spaces in Sacramento at an estimated cost of nearly $2 million a year.

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