A Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday observed that Democrats are a bit touchy these days. Apparently, questions about the $67 million spent on ObamaCare “navigators” are a no-no.
The “navigators” are non-government groups, like Planned Parenthood and Migrant Health Promotion, Inc., that have received federal funds to help Americans determine their subsidies for enrollment in the ObamaCare state exchanges. Though navigators were supposed to cost $54 million, HHS boosted that amount to $67 million by dipping into a “wellness” fund.
No background checks are required for the navigators, who will have access to the private information of Americans seeking health insurance on the exchanges. HHS says that navigators must obey security and privacy requirements but doesn’t define what those requirements are. This seeming little thought for Americans’ privacy has led more than a dozen state attorneys general to be alerted to the potential for fraud and identity theft.
The WSJ editorial reports the reaction that followed from Democrats when Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent letters to many of the 105 navigator organizations with questions about the type of work they will be performing with their taxpayer-funded grants and the nature of the training and education for navigators:
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. Norm Ornstein, the American Enterprise Institute’s house liberal, claims this is “another effort at sabotage” because the navigators won’t be in the field while they’re responding to the letters. Best of all, Henry Waxman claims to be shocked. The Democratic investigations specialist says the letters are “an abuse of your oversight authority,” and he would know.
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.
The outrage at the oversight is particularly noteworthy given the fact that scandal-ridden Planned Parenthood is beginning its new role of ObamaCare “navigator” fresh off a $4.3 million settlement for Medicaid fraud in Texas.
As LifeSiteNews reports, however, Planned Parenthood will be taking on even more than “navigator” responsibilities with the anticipated full implementation of ObamaCare. The abortion industry giant will also be operating as “in-person assisters,” additional health care assistance personnel who will operate in the states that run their own exchanges or that share responsibility for the exchanges with the federal government.
As an example, LifeSiteNews indicates that in late August, the Minnesota Exchange announced that it had chosen the state Planned Parenthood affiliate to be the recipient of a grant to serve as an “in-person assister.”
“Navigators” and “in-person assisters” are not alone, however. ObamaCare is so complex that it also requires the services of “certified application counselor organizations.”
What are certified application counselor organizations, you might ask? You won’t find the term anywhere in the massive ObamaCare law.
The federally facilitated Exchanges will designate certain organizations – community health centers, health care providers, social service agencies, etc. – to be certified application counselor organizations. (A state Exchange can do so also). These organizations will in turn certify their staff members, as well as their volunteers, to be counselors who will assist applicants in completing their applications for health insurance and for federal assistance programs. The organizations and counselors are not expected to be paid by the Exchanges.
Unlike Navigators, who are required to “[p]rovide information and services in a fair, accurate and impartial manner,” certified application counselors are required “to act in the best interest of the applicants assisted.” [78 Fed. Reg. 42826].
If Planned Parenthood applies for this designation as well, the abortion giant will have a third opportunity to be promoted on the HHS official website. As LifeSiteNews observes, ObamaCare “takes the federal government’s relationship with Planned Parenthood to a whole new level.”