Newsletter #97 – Seedco, a Tennessee Obamacare “Navigator”

Obamacare “navigator” = individuals employed by companies or non-profits who receive taxpayer funded grants to help people sign up for Obamacare.

A bipartisan-sponsored bill regarding Obamacare navigators passed the Tennessee  House 87-0 and the Senate 28-1 during the last legislative session.  One issue the bill addressed required criminal background checks for navigators. Tennessee’s Insurance Department then established rules requiring navigators to register with the state, be finger-printed and have criminal background checks.  All are safeguards to protect people from fraud.

These rules are particularly important because of the personal data that must be disclosed to the navigators according to the federal law, when they assist someone trying to enroll in Obamacare.

“Navigators and their assistants will have access to the federal data hub, an online nexus containing information from the Department of Health and Human Services and seven federal departments: the IRS, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Defense Department, the Office of Personnel Management, the Veterans Health Administration, and the Peace Corps.”

However, “HHS will not require background checks or fingerprinting of employees, and a previous criminal conviction – including one for identity theft – does not necessarily disqualify an employee from becoming a navigator.”

So, a federal court has blocked certain parts of Tennessee’s law, in particular  with regard as to who can serve as a navigator.  Now, unions, social service organizations and churches can all take taxpayer money and help people sign up for Obamacare. Unions, in particular, have a win-win situation since they are granted certain exemptions from the healthcare law but are still being paid to help enforce it.

Seedco (Structured Employment Economic Development Corporation), a national non-profit company, has been awarded multi-million dollar contracts for navigator services in several states including Tennessee.

Lisa Muchnick Pote, who ran for Metro Nashville Council in 2007 to represent the affluent  District 34, is now the Senior Vice-President of Seedco’s Mid-South Regional office located in Memphis. With a degree in social work, Ms Pote calls Seedco, “the Mid-South’s best kept secret.”

Perhaps what Pote wants to keep secret is the recent New York Seedco fraud prosecution, settled for $1.7 million for “faking at least 1,400 of 6,500 job placements under a $22.2 million federally funded contract” with New York City. It was further disclosed that Seedco shredded documents for 3 years.

And Seedco is still being allowed to function as a government intermediary and prey on an unsuspecting public.

Tennessee Legislative concern over who serves as a navigator was well placed, not only because navigators have access to all types of personally identifying information, but also because people seeking help from a navigator can more easily be misled about information they are required to disclose.

So why has the federal government decided to put so many Americans at risk for fraud and identity theft by excluding criminal checks, even to the point of suspending Tennessee state legislation?

It is particularly concerning now that navigator fraud is being reported.  You can even  watch it in action.