Obama Thanks 'Navigators' After Sebelius Admits They Could Be Felons

November 7, 2013 - 8:47 AM

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President Barack Obama and Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo. board Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013. Obama is traveling to Dallas to pitch health care and raise money for Democratic party. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(CNSNews.com) - President Obama went to Dallas, Texas Wednesday to do some fund-raising, and also to thank a group of "navigators" who are supposed to help people sign up for insurance on the new government-run health care exchanges:

"My main job here today is to say thank you," Obama told the navigators.

His visit came just hours after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the Senate Finance Committee it's "possible" that a convicted felon could be a navigator, since there is no federal requirement that Obamacare navigators undergo criminal background checks.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) asked Sebelius, "Isn’t it true that there is no federal requirement for navigators to undergo a criminal background check?"

"That is true," Sebelius said, adding that the states could impose "additional background checks and other features, but it is not part of the federal requirement."

Cornyn said, “So a convicted felon could be a navigator and could acquire sensitive personal information from an individual unbeknownst to them?”

“This is possible,” Sebelius said.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) called the admission "extraordinarily disturbing."

"And today, we learned from Secretary Sebelius that not only is Big Brother watching, not only is Big Brother collecting a lot of really dangerous personal information about all of us through the navigators, but Big Brother himself might in many instances be an ex-convict! And that's extraordinarily disturbing on top of everything else," Lee told Fox News's Sean Hannity Wednesday night.

In Dallas on Wednesday, President Obama repeated his unhappiness with the rollout of healthcare.gov, the portal to the new insurance exchanges. But he insisted "there is great insurance to be had out there," and "folks are working 24/7 to make sure this happens."

"The truth of the matter is, even if the website were working 100 percent, a lot of people would still need help to navigate through this stuff," Obama said. "A high percentage of people who don't have health care also might not have ready access to a computer right away. Or it might be confusing for them, and they would need people to help guide them through this process."

Texas is one of the states that has decided not to expand its Medicaid program. Although Medicaid expansion was written into the law, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the states must decide that aspect of Obamacare for themselves.

But Democrats are starting to point accusing fingers at states that have decided not to expand Medicaid, saying they are trying to undermine Obamacare for political reasons.

"Unfortunately, five million people living in states that did not expand Medicare eligibility will be left out in the cold," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Wednesday. "It's shameful that Americans who simply want access to lifesaving medical care will be denied insurance for political reasons."

And President Obama told a Texas fundraiser on Wednesday that "ideology has taken precedence over common sense and helping people" in Texas.

But Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) fired back in a statement: "Texans aren't the reason Obamacare is crumbling," he said. "Obamacare is the reason Obamacare is crumbling."

The Associated Press reported that before leaving Washington on Wednesday, "Obama tried to soothe the concerns of 16 Senate Democrats facing re-election next year during a two-hour White House meeting. Many of those lawmakers are worried that the problem-plagued rollout could negatively affect their races."