Measure barring Covered California from hiring certain felons fails

Forms to register for healthcare insurance are displayed during a healthcare enrollment fair at Ambrose Community Center in Bay Point, Calif. A bill to prohibit the hiring of certain felons from working for the state health exchange failed to advance in the Legislature on Tuesday.
(Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)

SACRAMENTO--A bill barring the state’s health insurance exchange from hiring individuals convicted of certain felonies failed to advance Tuesday.

Under the proposal by Assemblywoman Connie Conway (R-Tulare), Covered California would not be able to hire people who have been convicted of certain crimes--felonies concerning breach of trust or dishonesty--for jobs where enrollees’ financial or medical data could be accessed.

Conway, the Assembly Republican Leader, argued that by hiring people convicted of financial crimes, the health plan exchange could be putting users’ private information at risk.

Earlier this year, she and another GOP lawmaker, Assemblyman Brian Nestande of Palm Desert, called for a hearing into the state’s hiring practices after state exchange records revealed that 31 people with criminal convictions had served as enrollment counselors last year.


Critics of the measure said it was too far-reaching and could be discriminatory under federal civil rights law.

Carla Saporta, health policy director at the Greenlining Institute , said Conway’s measure is an “overly restrictive policy that does not take into account the individual applicants’ situation, their rehabilitation or other special circumstances.”

Opponents said Covered California’s current background check requirements were sufficient.

Assemblyman Richard Pan (D-Sacramento), chair of the Health Committee, said “there’s been a lot of hard work done to ensure the privacy protection” of patients.


The bill, AB 1829, failed to pass on a 6-12 vote; all Republicans on the committee were in support, while nearly all Democrats voted no. Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) did not not cast a vote.

“I believe in second chances, but not giving those convicted of forgery or fraud access to people’s Social Security numbers or tax returns,” Conway said in a statement after the hearing. “Today’s vote by the majority party means that consumers who sign up for a plan through Covered California will still be at risk of having their private information compromised by those who have committed financial crimes.”