By Columnist Jim Kouri
The Affordable Care Act, a/k/a ObamaCare, and it’s rollout snafu appears to be merely the most visible deficiency of the entire health insurance program, according to a report released by the U.S. Congress on Monday.
House lawmakers strongly suggest that ObamaCare’s Navigator and Assister program displays serious mismanagement of a government program that jeopardizes Americans’ privacy and exposes them to fraud and cyber crime.
Under the chairmanship of Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee made public a staff report on the subject of the navigators that is raising the eyebrows of many Americans who are already suspicious of Obamacare and its less-than-honest promises.
Besides the report’s release, Issa’s committee held hearings in Dallas, Texas, on Monday regarding Obamacare’s outreach programs that he claims “exposes Americans to fraud and poses a threat to the safety of consumers’ personal information.”
Obama’s Navigator program was created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 in order to make ObamaCare attractive and to encourage enrollment in its so-called health insurance exchanges, the report states.
The lesser known Assister program initiated by the Obama minions, with dubious legal authority, as a way around ObamaCare’s clear statutory prohibition on using federal exchange establishment funds on Navigators, according to the committee’s report.
Months prior to the ill-fated launch of ObamaCare on October 1, Issa and members of the Oversight Committee launched their own investigation into potential problems with the Navigator and Assister program.
The House in September released a preliminary staff report that showcased the ill-effects of the healthcare program’s management of the Navigator and Assister program including the risks posed for fraud, abuse, and misinformation. The report highlights the lack of criminal background checks, inadequate training standards, and a weak administration oversight strategy for Navigators and Assisters.
“The new report makes clear that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials lacked a contingency plan for the Navigator and Assister program after HealthCare.gov failed, leaving consumers open to the risk of identity theft due to confusion surrounding enrollment for health exchanges,” notes Rep. Issa.
According to the Oversight Committee’s probe, “The Obama Administration failed to conduct any analysis about whether it should require individuals hired by Navigator and Assister organizations to pass a background check and be fingerprinted.”
As far as education and training standards, the report alleges that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her staff at the Department of Health and Human Services provided “approximately five to 20 hours of training,” down considerably from HHS’s previous estimate that it would take 20 to 30 hours to complete the online training.”
Even more astonishing, according to the committee report, Navigator exams are conducted on the Internet and applicants were allowed to take the exams “an unlimited number of times.”
Top HHS officials acknowledged concerns that con artists and identity thieves will pose as Navigators, and testified that this problem will only increase as ObamaCare is fully implemented.
They also admitted that HHS has not yet provided consumers with a reliable way to verify the identity or authenticity of certified Navigators or Assisters.
“Now, that we are 2-and-a-half months into the rollout of ObamaCare, we see how right we were to raise concerns,” said the committee’s lawmakers.