Texas vs. Obamacare
Sen. Ted Cruz has been fighting to stop the flow of money to the program, while his counterpart, Sen. John Cornyn, has raised a number of concerns over the navigator program, specifically the trustworthiness of the people being recruited to the program. Last week, during the Senate Finance Committee's hearing on Obamacare, Cornyn asked if there's a "federal requirement for navigators to undergo a criminal background check." Sebelius acknowledged there isn't one, then added: "States could have an additional background check and other features, but it is not part of the federal requirement."
The thing is, that's true. States can issue restrictions and regulations on the navigator program to protect consumers. Or, in the case of Ohio and Missouri, make it more difficult for navigators to work with consumers. Though Texas state contractors require background checks for those working under them, the state of Texas doesn't require background checks for the workers who help people sign up for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, food stamps and cash assistance programs, according to Stephanie Goodman of Texas' Health and Human Services Commission.
And while Sens. Cruz and Cornyn have tried to fight the navigator program in Congress, Gov. Rick Perry has exercised his right to define navigator standards and introduced the strictest navigator rules in the country. Last month, The El Paso Times reported:
Perry last month instructed [Texas Insurance Commissioner Julia] Rathgeber to require that Texas navigators get an additional 40 hours of training, undergo a rigorous state-administered exam, submit to background checks and report names and other information about people they sign up to the state for inclusion in a database.
Perry instructed Rathgeber to charge a fee to cover the cost of enforcing the regulations.
As it is, the Obama administration has been struggling to train enough navigators to meet demands in states that are determined to block Obamacare by ignoring it. Perry also declined to expand Medicaid, which will leave 1.5 million Texans uninsured.
Project Veritas vs. Obamacare
Conservatives would argue that the navigator backlash is solely about protecting consumer information. And a new undercover video from Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe seems to validate at least some of those fears. In the video a young man goes undercover in a Dallas navigator office, where navigators appear to recommend lying on tax returns to keep premiums low and subsidies high.
You might remember O'Keefe as the conservative investigative journalist who, in 2010, uncovered ACORN members seemingly willing to give him advice on smuggling underaged girls into America to become prostitutes. Or, you might remember him as the man who, this year, paid a $100,000 settlement to a man who appeared in one of those videos and later called the police on him. In the selectively edited navigator video (in at least one instance, the same damning soundbite is used twice in different conversations), Dallas navigators tell a young man to not report his cash income and not mention that he's a smoker, to keep his premiums down.