Guard Against Fraud in W.Va.

Throughout the United States, con artists and identity thieves probably are rubbing their hands together in glee. The door to fraud on a scale never before seen in the United States is about to be thrown wide open, courtesy of President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Among public officials trying to do something about that is West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. He scored limited success this week.

Tens of millions of people will have to make decisions about health insurance as a result of “Obamacare.” Some will be permitted to sign up for Medicaid. Others will be told that if they do not purchase government-approved insurance, they will pay hundreds of dollars a year in new taxes.

Allegedly to help people understand the 0pitfalls and options of the health care law, the federal government is handing out billions of dollars to hire “navigators” to explain the system. Most of the money is going to existing organizations.

Rules for navigators are vague, and concern has been expressed that some may not have the best interests of those whose personal information they obtain at heart. Information such as birth dates, Social Security numbers, etc., could be used to steal clients’ money.

With that in mind, Morrisey contacted organizations given federal grants to provide navigator services. He asked them to answer 26 questions on subjects such as hiring practices and background checks for employees.

This week, one of the organizations, West Virginia Parent Training Inc. of Clarksburg, announced it is turning down a $365,000 federal grant. In August, WVPTI had been awarded the money to provide navigator services to Mountain State residents.

WVPTI’s executive director, Pat Haberbosch, said the grant was being declined “because of unforeseen circumstances.” She did not elaborate. But she did tell a reporter that if Morrisey’s goal was to safeguard consumers, he was right. “That’s his job,” she added.

Indeed it is.

Like so much about Obamacare, little thought seems to have been given to ensuring the hundreds of thousands of navigators hired throughout the country are honest and will not use consumers’ information for fraud schemes.

Morrisey has been accused of trying to torpedo part of Obamacare by checking up on navigator agencies. Nonsense. As Haberbosch put it, he is just doing his job.

Thank heaven someone is attempting to safeguard West Virginians from one of the unpleasant side-effects of Obamacare.