By Travis Perry │ Kansas Watchdog
OSAWATOMIE — Does a bankruptcy, a bad check and an arrest warrant make someone cut out to advise citizens on the financial implications of health insurance?
Only in Lawrence, where one Obamacare navigator didn’t just come under fire for the revelations; she was praised by supervisors.
Rosilyn Wells, outreach and enrollment director for Heartland Community Health Center, landed in the hot seat Monday. Daily Caller reported the Sunflower State health care adviser not only had a bench warrant out for her arrest in Shawnee County, but also a troubled financial history including bankruptcy in 2003 and a 2007 civil charge from Midwest Checkrite. Wells was not aware of the bench warrant until she was contacted by Daily Caller.
Navigators are tasked with helping the uninsured sign up for health insurance through the online federal insurance exchange.
Jon Stewart, chief executive officer for HCHC, said Wells was up front about her debt problems early on in the hiring process. As far as he’s concerned, it’s a good thing.
“This actually puts her in a position to be really sensitive to the needs of these folks,” Stewart said.
The warrant for Wells’ arrest didn’t show up in a background check conducted for the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved, which helps run the navigator program in Kansas alongside HCHC. Stewart said the background check was intended to reveal felony convictions and “person-to-person” crimes, not Wells’ unpaid civil debt.
The warrant stemmed from $5,236.59 in unpaid debt Wells had accumulated at Stormont Vail HealthCare in Topeka, she said. Wells said the debt was the result of a hospital stay from when she was uninsured. She added that she wasn’t aware of the warrant until the Daily Caller reporter contacted her, and she has since rectified the issue with the courts and the warrant is no longer active.
Sen. Robert Olson, R-Olathe, said Kansas should have followed states like Missouri, Florida, Tennessee and Ohio in instituting greater control and regulation of Obamacare navigators. Olson is chair of the Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance committee.
“I definitely think we should have, and that’s something we need to think about doing, because someone that can’t pay their own bills and has the problems this lady has … sounds to me like she can’t even handle her own business, let alone the people of the state of Kansas,” Olson said.
He floated the idea of implementing greater oversight from the Senate to ensure quality candidates fill such positions in the future.
Linda Sheppard, director of health care policy and analysis for the Kansas Insurance Department, said her agency doesn’t have the authority to exert greater control over navigators, but “certainly the Legislature could take a look at this issue if the interest is there.”
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