As the Texas Department of Insurance develops rules for Obamacare navigators, the Obama administration is resorting to a tried-and-true political tactic: pointing fingers. According to some, like Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Obamacare would be going along swimmingly if it weren’t for all those pesky Texans getting in the way.
Truth is, the only thing to blame for Obamacare’s mounting problems is Obamacare itself. Obamacare offers virtually no protection for consumers shopping for health coverage through these so-called navigators. Since the feds won’t, Texas will.
What TDI is doing is implementing common-sense rules for the navigators who will probe Texans for their most personal and private information in the name of signing consumers up for Obamacare. These rules are especially important given the minimal federal requirements navigators must meet.
Earlier this year, with the passage of SB 1795, the Texas Legislature authorized TDI to create and implement navigator rules in addition to the federal standards, including important protective measures like basic criminal background checks. During U.S. House testimony last month, Secretary Sebelius herself admitted federal navigators underwent no background check at all and could, in fact, be felons. TDI’s rules will help ensure felons, including convicted sex offenders, are not knocking on Texans’ doors under the guise of signing them up for insurance, and that Texans aren’t giving out their most private and sensitive information to someone already convicted of fraud or identity theft.
Secretary Sebelius has bragged that navigators will receive 20 hours of training, including some training about policies regarding privacy. While that may be enough training in her book, it hasn’t prevented fraud documented in published videos showing navigators — who have already completed Secretary Sebelius’ training — encouraging applicants to lie about their income and misstate their smoking habits in order to snare higher subsidies and lower premiums at taxpayer expense.
Anyone who doubts the need for stricter navigator rules need only review the new report by the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which paints a damning picture of her navigators. The report outlines numerous areas of concern, including instances where navigators openly encouraged applicants to commit tax fraud to obtain subsidies they otherwise are not qualified to receive.
But even avoiding navigators doesn’t completely remove the risks for consumers. Security flaws in the Obamacare website have been widely reported, and just last month information technology security experts testified before Congress the site is at serious risk for fraud and theft of data.
Clearly, Texas’ concerns about this program are well-founded. Our citizens’ private information and personal safety demand the strictest protections. And, regardless of Secretary Sebelius’ rhetoric, this administration has traveled far beyond the bounds of saying, “Just trust us,” with any confidence or credibility.
The truth is, Obamacare is a colossal disaster and getting worse. The effects aren’t only felt by those attempting to sign up for benefits, but by everyone who already has – or until recently, had – coverage. So, until the Obama administration places the privacy and protection of American consumers above political pushback, Texas will hold the line on protecting our citizens.