In just a few weeks, Americans will be detailing their very personal health and financial information to the health law’s Navigators, who are then supposed to help them sign up for health care coverage through the exchanges. Despite repeated concerns voiced by House Republicans about inadequate training, HHS decided to hastily proceed with the program before even finalizing what that training would be. In mid-August, the Obama administration announced $67 million worth of Navigator grants to 105 different organizations intended to help sell and explain Obamacare to the American people. The $67 million represents a 25 percent increase, $13 million over what the administration had originally budgeted.
As the health law’s October 1, 2013, enrollment fast approaches, the House Energy and Commerce Committee is committed to protecting taxpayer dollars and Americans’ sensitive personal medical information. The committee recently sent letters to recipients of Navigator grants in eleven states – simply asking the organizations how they will spend the money and attempting to learn how they will protect personal financial and health information during the enrollment process. In addition to the committee, 13 state attorneys general recently voiced their own concerns. The Wall Street Journal editorial board today questions why the Obama administration and its allies are objecting to this thoughtful oversight exercise on behalf of the American public. After three years of preparation, implementation of the administration’s signature health law has been plagued by delays, missed deadlines, broken promises, and special waivers. With millions of dollars at stake, there is no reason basic questions cannot or should not be answered.
September 6, 2013
EDITORIAL: Navigating ObamaCare Outrage
How dare anyone ask anything about the law’s implementation.
With ObamaCare scheduled to launch on October 1, Democrats seem more than a little anxious about their ability to execute. That’s the only fathomable explanation for their nervous breakdown over a routine House inquiry.
The Affordable Care Act is paying for “navigators,” or non-government groups that received federal dollars in August to help people figure out and enroll for subsidies. That such a program even exists explains a lot about the complexity of the new entitlement. …
HHS regulations don’t require background checks for the navigators but do say they must obey security and privacy requirements, without defining what the requirements will be. …
Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent oversight letters to about half of 105 navigator organizations with six general questions. They include asking about “the work that will be performed with the funds obtained via your navigator grant” and “the training or education employees, volunteers or representatives must complete.”
Presumably these professional activists needed to submit this sort of material to HHS to obtain taxpayer plums in the first place. HHS could disclose the applications but is treating them like state secrets.
Prepare the fainting couches. HHS has responded by calling the GOP requests “a blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate groups who will be working to inform Americans about” the glories of national health care. …
All of this outrage is part of the liberal alibi that Republicans are responsible if ObamaCare stumbles. But if the handsomely financed navigators can’t spare an hour or two to comply with a congressional investigation, then the law must be in bigger trouble than Democrats care to admit.
Read the entire editorial online here.