Recent Republican complaints about the Affordable Care Act’s website are not without irony. It’s odd, for example, to hear GOP lawmakers complain about Americans struggling to sign up for benefits that GOP lawmakers don’t want Americans to have.
For that matter, Republicans appear outraged by consumers’ limited access to enrollment in health care marketplaces, but these same policymakers have spent months trying to sabotage the “navigators” program.
On the Senate floor yesterday, Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) took this to an almost comical level.
“We’ve already heard anecdotal reports about Obamacare navigators, including a woman who had an outstanding arrest warrant at the time she was hired – along with former members of an organization known as ACORN, that’s had its own share of problems with corruption and lawbreaking.“As I said a moment ago, these people will be allowed to collect some of the most sensitive personal information that we have as Americans.”
Oh, good. We haven’t heard Republicans complain about ACORN in months. It’s good to know the group that permanently closed its doors years ago is still on GOP lawmakers’ minds.
But even putting this aside, does Cornyn’s substantive point have merit? Actually no.
To briefly recap the policy we discussed over the summer, the Obama administration has partnered with organizations nationwide to hire navigators who’ve been tasked with helping American consumers navigate the new system and sign up for benefits they’re legally entitled to. Unsure if you’re eligible for your state’s exchange marketplace? A navigator can help. Confused about how to choose the coverage plan that’s best for you? A navigator can guide you through it.
Republican officials have determined that cracking down on navigators may help keep the uninsured from signing up for coverage, so they’ve gone to remarkable lengths to sabotage the program, with GOP policymakers blocking navigators from helping consumers who need a hand.
How is this any less offensive than a dysfunctional website? It’s not. Indeed, in some ways it’s worse – the Obama administration didn’t break the website on purpose, but Republicans are deliberately trying to make it harder for the uninsured to receive health care benefits.
And Cornyn is making matters worse. Navigators aren’t criminals; there is no ACORN plot; and those involved in the program aren’t “collecting sensitive personal information” on anyone. This is all just made up by a senator who can’t stop himself from trying to undermine the new system.