This video is an eye-opener, as it’s a window into the sleazy underside of the Obamacare disaster – not only are Obamacare navigators counseling people to commit fraud on their applications in order to get lower premiums and higher government subsidies, but the organizations sponsoring those navigators are thinly-disguised Democrat front groups whose real aim is to hook as many poor people up to the federal teat as possible in an effort to manufacture Democrat bloc voters.
“This investigation shows just how vulnerable Obamacare is to fraud,” said James O’Keefe, whose organization Project Veritas is releasing a series of videos documenting how wide-open the Obamacare navigator system is to abuse. “Taxpayers lose billions due to Medicare fraud and there is a clear possibility of billions more being wasted under a government-run health care system costing taxpayers $1.7 trillion.”
Of course, there is a very simple way to shut this kind of thing down – and that is to impose standards on Obamacare navigators at the state level. Essentially, what these people are doing is selling health insurance without a license under the ambit of the federal government, so states can and should prohibit Obamacare navigators to operate until they’ve managed to secure a health insurance license. And punish violators to the fullest extent of the law.
Some 17 states have already imposed some restrictions on this scheme – and got hammered by National Journal for their trouble…
But whether by fees, background checks, tests, extra training, certifications, threats of civil penalties, or delays, Republican legislatures and officials in at least 17 states across the country have thrown up all manner of bureaucratic roadblocks in front of the program.
The officials say the regulations are necessary to protect consumers and their personal information, but health care reform advocates say the regulations, adopted only in states controlled by Republicans, are just part of a multipronged campaign to obstruct the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at every turn.
In Georgia, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens boasted in a speech two months ago about a new state law that requires navigators to be licensed by his office. “Let me tell you what we’re doing: Everything in our power to be an obstructionist,” Hudgens said to cheers.
Amanda Ptashkin, the outreach and advocacy director for Georgians for a Healthy Future and a navigator herself, says she and other navigators had to go through a time-consuming process to get certified, first by the federal government, which requires 20 hours of training, and then by the state. The state’s regulations required fingerprints, passing a background check, an affidavit of citizenship, getting a driver’s license photo taken, paying a $50 fee, more training, taking a test, and waiting. When the exchanges opened on Oct. 1, only four or five navigators in the state had made it through the process. Almost a month later, they’re up to 45 and things are working more or less smoothly, but it’s difficult to coordinate efforts in the absence of state involvement. “It’s unfortunate that we don’t have leadership on the state level to help inform consumers,” Ptashkin said.
To pro-Obamacare advocates like Ethan Rome, the executive director of Health Care for America Now, attacking the administration over problems with HealthCare.gov while also obstructing the work of the navigators in the states is “jaw-dropping, turbo-charged hypocrisy.” “These people who say they want to fix the website aren’t actually interested in helping people take advantage of the benefits of the ACA,” Rome says.
“If you’re one of these congressional Republicans, and you care deeply about how the website functions, here’s my question: How many small businesses did you help get a tax credit? Because if the answer is zero, then just go home and don’t ever come back to Washington,” Rome adds.
At least four health care groups from Ohio to Texas have declined or returned hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal grant money in the face of state regulations. Meanwhile, navigators in Wisconsin say onerous regulations prevented them from getting to work sooner.
Here in Louisiana, nothing was done to restrict the activities of the Obamacare navigators. That might well change in next year’s legislative session. Meanwhile, O’Keefe has more to come from his Texas investigations.