Lead health care navigator in Florida provides wrong information on credit scores

Ann Packham tells Local 6 she was incorrect about Affordable Care Act

ORLANDO, Fla. - A day after saying that anyone signing up for the Affordable Care Act had to provide their credit score, the lead Navigator admitted that she had been providing factually incorrect information to the public.

Anne Packham, one of the people assigned by the state to help people navigate the government's website, asserted in an interview on Tuesday – and then later during follow up questions - that the credit check was put in place so providers can make an educated decision about who to insure.

"That's so that health insurance providers can make an educated decision about who to insure based on if someone is defaulting on all of their bills they may not want to have them as part of their health plan," she said during Tuesday's on-camera interview.

A representative for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday credit scores have nothing to do with insurance rates under the Affordable Care Act.

"Insurers are not allowed to factor in credit scores when setting premiums and at no point in the process are peoples' scores accessed," the HHS representative wrote in an e-mail response to questions from Local 6.

Local 6 confronted Packham on Wednesday and asked her, "How does someone in your position get that wrong?"

"So I misspoke yesterday," she said. "I realize I made a mistake."

The topic of credit reports came up because some users are being asked during the enrollment process to link to a company called Experian to verify their identities, the HHS said.

Experian is a major provider of credit reports, but HHS says it is only using Experian's services to verify identities and they say credit scores are not checked.

Packham wouldn't say how she came up with such a detailed – and completely wrong – explanation for the question about credit checks.

Local 6 asked Packham, "People just want to know. You've been through training. You are educating people about the process. How does this happen?"

"It's human error," Packham said.      

Watch Local 6 News and stay with ClickOrlando.com for more on this developing story.

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