Montana Department of Justice
Home / Press Release / Attorney General Tim Fox and 12 Other States Raise Concerns about Consumer Privacy Protection in Health Insurance Exchanges
August 15, 2013

Attorney General Tim Fox and 12 Other States Raise Concerns about Consumer Privacy Protection in Health Insurance Exchanges

Attorney General Tim Fox today announced that Montana and 12 other states have sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), expressing concerns about consumers’ private information being protected under the new health insurance exchanges that are set to go into effect this fall.

“Montanans value their right to privacy, so much so that they made it an enumerated right in their state Constitution. The federal government’s lackadaisical approach to handling Americans’ private information doesn’t pass muster under any standard, and in particular Montana standards.”

The letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says privacy protection measures written into HHS’s rules governing programs that assist consumers with enrolling in the planned new health care exchanges are woefully inadequate. The exchanges were created as part of the Affordable Care Act.

“Personnel working for various groups and agencies to help consumers sign up for health insurance will have significant access to consumers’ personal information, yet HHS rules lack clarity regarding privacy protection,” Attorney General Fox said. “HHS rules promise that training will be ‘extensive,’ but officials with the agency have already cut back on the required hours of training from 30 to 20 online hours because there isn’t enough time to do extensive training before the health insurance exchanges open. That’s the wrong approach and will only lead to more problems.”

The ACA provides funding for groups, such as navigators, to help consumers enroll in health insurance plans. As part of that process, these navigators and other assistance personnel will have significant access to consumers’ private and personal data. However, the letter states that HHS’s rules fail to ensure that navigators will be adequately trained to safeguard data provided by consumers. Nor do the rules make clear who is responsible if an identity theft occurs.
Even more concerning for the attorneys general is that HHS currently does not require criminal background checks or fingerprint checks of potential navigator hires and does not list any prior criminal acts as being a disqualifier for someone seeking to work with consumers.

“The risk of inadequate training is only one issue I’m concerned about,” Attorney General Fox said. “The proposed consumer safeguards also are woefully substandard and come up short when compared to other privacy protections at the state and federal level. HHS must understand that it’s not enough to simply adopt vague policies against fraud. Each person collecting information is being placed in a position of trust and will have access to a wide variety of personal information from consumers. Therefore, HHS must implement an on-the-ground plan to secure consumer information, follow up on complaints, and work with law enforcement to prosecute bad counselors; otherwise, this is a disaster waiting to happen.”

In their letter, the attorneys general raise eight areas of concern and ask HHS a series of questions about steps the agency will take to ensure citizens are protected. The attorneys general ask HHS to respond to their questions by August 28, 2013.

Attorneys general in West Virginia, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas joined in the letter.

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Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

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Children’s Justice Bureau

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Missing Persons Clearinghouse

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Office of Victim Services

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Justice Information Technology Services Division

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Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.

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Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.

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Natural Resource Damage Program

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Gambling Control Division

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Human Trafficking

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Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.

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Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.

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Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

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Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

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