GOP Ramps Up Smear Campaign Against Obamacare Navigators
Beware anybody trying to help people sign up for health insurance under Obamacare.
That’s the line from top Senate Republicans, who have magnified their smear campaign against the law’s so-called navigators, groups that have received federal money to assist people in enrolling for coverage. Their latest shot: darkly warning that Americans could put their personal and financial safety at risk if they seek out assistance.
Republicans have a longstanding animosity toward the navigators — state officials in a number of red states have put up roadblocks for them — but the comments of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are a new extreme in the party’s assault on those tasked with helping Americans navigate the health reform law.
It all seems to have stemmed from a line of questioning that Cornyn posed to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Nov. 6, at a hearing that was supposed to focus on healthcare.gov.
“Isn’t it true that there is no federal requirement for navigators to undergo a criminal background, even though they will receive personal — sensitive personal information from the individuals they helped sign up for the Affordable Care Act?” Cornyn inquired.
“That is true. States could add an additional background check and other features, but it is not part of the federal requirement,” Sebelius replied.
“So a convicted felon could be a navigator and could acquire sensitive personal information from an individual, unbeknownst to them,” Cornyn said.
“That is possible,” Sebelius said. “We have contracts with the organizations, and they have taken the responsibility to screen their individual navigators and make sure that they are sufficiently trained for the job.”
But Republicans only heard the first part.