Fox's Baseless Report On Health Insurance Guidance Program: Unions Will Steal Your Personal Information

Fox News' Megyn Kelly and Chris Stirewalt attacked a program that would help people seeking health insurance understand the new health care reform law, baselessly suggesting that “unions and community advocacy groups” might use the program to steal patients' personal information -- even though Stirewalt admitted that “there's no evidence” Fox's claims were true.

On April 3, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed regulations for health care navigators, assistants who would provide “unbiased information” to help consumers understand the new health care law and enroll in insurance plans, as a post on Health Affairs Blog noted.

Kelly, appearing to echo a Washington Examiner post, led a segment on the April 4 edition of America Live by describing navigators' roles and then saying, “But now some are raising red flags, saying the rules allow these jobs of the navigators to be filled by organizations with political agendas, including unions and community action groups.”

Kelly failed to explain why allowing union members to become navigators would be problematic, and the words “union” and “community action” do not appear in the proposed rules.

In fact, while the rules do include standards on who can apply for navigator jobs, these standards center on conflict-of-interest problems: since navigators will be required to provide unbiased information about insurance plans, the rules prohibit health insurance issuers or their lobbyists from becoming navigators.

After Kelly again said the navigators could be “our friends over at SEIU,” Stirewalt, her guest, bizarrely concluded the segment by saying (emphasis added):

STIREWALT: The problem comes in, Republicans are very concerned about this, is that does this give these groups, these Democratic-allied groups, access to vital information about people that they can either then organize subsequently. ... [The navigators] might be able to take this information away and use it for their own purposes. There's no evidence of that, but it is part of a growing list of concerns.

Not only is there “no evidence” for Stirewalt's claim, as he admits, but the proposed rules on navigators explicitly state that they will have to abide by “stringent privacy and security standards” with respect to “consumers' sensitive personal information”:

The Exchange regulations, at 45 CFR § 155.260(a), establish privacy and security standards for Exchanges, and § 155.260(b) provides that Exchanges must require Navigators and other non-Exchange entities to abide by the same or more stringent privacy and security standards as a condition of contract or agreement with such entities. Consistent with these requirements, we propose that the training for Navigators and non-Navigator assistance personnel must include training designed to ensure that they safeguard consumers' sensitive personal information including but not limited to health information, income and tax information, and Social Security number.