|ACORN slayer James O'Keefe with Matthew Vadum|
ACORN Redux: The ObamaCare Navigators Nightmare
By Matthew Vadum
The undercover videographer who helped to kill ACORN is now turning his powerful lens on Obamacare “navigators,” showing how left-wing groups break the law and defraud taxpayers by pushing Obamacare exchanges.
The undercover investigators of Project Veritas, the nonprofit created by ACORN slayer James O’Keefe III, are going after the almost 50,000 Obamacare “navigators,” whom the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says are supposed to “serve as an in-person resource for Americans who want additional assistance in shopping for and enrolling in plans” on the Obamacare exchanges.
Left-wing activists have scooped up more than $67 million in grants nationwide to hire the navigators, a payoff to ACORN and other radical outfits that helped win Barack Obama the presidency.
Undercover investigators from Project Veritas captured taxpayer-paid Obamacare promoters on video telling health care insurance applicants to lie about preexisting medical conditions.
A new video shows an Obamacare navigator employed by the National Urban League in Texas counseling an investigator to be untruthful when completing documentation needed to apply for health care insurance on the Obamacare exchanges. The league took in $376,000 from the federal government for its navigator work.
“You lie because your premiums will be higher,” one navigator tells the undercover journalist, who advised the person that he occasionally smokes. “Don’t tell them that. Don’t tell ’em.”
When the investigator pretends to be a low-income university employee with unreported cash income that, if declared, could endanger his eligibility for federal premium subsidies, the navigators advises, “Don’t get yourself in trouble by declaring it now.”
“Yeah, it didn’t happen,” says another navigator. Another adds, “Never report it.”
The video also shows Project Veritas visiting Enroll America, a nationwide nonprofit group that is encouraging millions of Americans to sign up for health insurance coverage on Obamacare exchanges.
As John Fund notes in a National Review Online article, Daniel Clayton of Enroll America says the group is “purely nonprofit. It’s not partisan, non-political.” But when Brian Pendleton, also of Enroll America, was introduced at a speaking engagement, Enroll America was called “the official group for the DNC [Democratic National Committee].”
O’Keefe, Fund reports, says Enroll America “appears to be sharing data and working directly with an explicitly political group called Battleground Texas, activities that [O'Keefe] notes ‘are prohibited unless certain conditions are met.’ Adrian Bell, the regional field director for Battleground Texas, proudly notes the group was ‘started by President Obama’s national field director’ and is ‘dedicated to turning Texas blue.’”
The release of the video has already produced promising results. The Urban League of Greater Dallas fired one person and suspended three others shown in the video exhorting health care applicants to lie. The group stated it “does not condone, nor would we ever sanction, misleading the public or any individual who seeks our assistance about any issue, and particularly in this case, an issue as critical as health care.”
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) called for the navigators program to be halted after he watched the video. “This behavior is unacceptable, and is yet another broken piece of a deeply flawed system,” Cornyn said.
“We have so much footage, so many offices,” O’Keefe wrote of his new Obamacare navigator sting operation on his Twitter account. “So many employees. So much fraud caught on tape. We’re going to release them all one by one.”
O’Keefe is following the same highly successful rollout strategy the late Andrew Breitbart used in fall 2009 that disseminated O’Keefe’s videos showing ACORN wrongdoings and kept ACORN employees’ criminal behavior in the forefront of each new day’s news cycle. Breitbart would release a video showing misdeeds in an ACORN office in one city and then ACORN would lie, denying the behavior or claiming it was carried out by rogue employees. On another day Breitbart would release a video from an ACORN office in another city showing similar unethical or unlawful behavior and ACORN would again offer dishonest spin on the new video. Several more videos were released this way, and each time ACORN shot itself in the foot by trying to explain away what viewers’ lying eyes had observed.
This culminated in a farcical National Press Club media event in which ACORN’s then-chief organizer Bertha Lewis claimed that shadowy forces had somehow conspired to harm her poor little innocent group.
Even left-wing Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank openly mocked Lewis at the time, finding himself in the unaccustomed position of defending Republicans. “In creativity, the ACORN boss’s denials were matched only by her assignments of blame … [s]he blamed her predecessor … [s]he blamed the powerful … [a]nd most of all, she blamed Republicans,” accusing them, ridiculously, of what she called “modern-day ACORN McCarthyism.”
The Breitbart approach paid off, devastating the organized crime syndicate that used to employ Barack Obama as a trainer and as its attorney.
The undercover videos shot by O’Keefe and his then-partner Hannah Giles in mid-2009 showed ACORN employees across the nation giving helpful advice on how to lie to the government, commit tax fraud, and trick banks into providing loans for brothels catering to pedophiles. The videos helped to kill off the group which had been hit the year before with the revelation of a million-dollar embezzlement scandal and cover-up involving its founder Wade Rathke.
Later that year Congress, which had given ACORN about $79 million in grants over the years, approved a law permanently pulling ACORN off the ever bounteous public teat. The 400,000-member organization filed for bankruptcy in November 2010. ACORN’s largest division, ACORN Housing, changed its name to Affordable Housing Centers of America to distance itself from the tarnished ACORN brand but still ended up collapsing in 2012 despite receiving sizable cash injections from the Obama administration.
Remnants of the ACORN network are involved in providing Obamacare navigators too.
United Labor Unions (ULU) Local 100 in New Orleans, is reportedly providing navigators in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas. In 1979, ACORN created the United Labor Unions, which it used to organize low-wage, fast-food, and home healthcare workers in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas.
ULU 100 is headed by ACORN founder Wade Rathke, a corrupt union ringleader who orchestrated massive campaigns involving identity fraud in furtherance of voter fraud and who covered up a million-dollar embezzlement involving pension funds. Now his navigators have unfettered access to confidential information on thousands of people seeking health insurance. ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, is the nonprofit group that knowingly hired felons convicted of identity theft to work on voter registration drives, giving them custody of sensitive voter information.
As I showed in my ACORN/Obama expose, Subversion Inc., ACORN is also infamous for hiring felons without bothering to do background checks, storming hospital emergency rooms and city council chambers, using voter fraud to turn graveyards across the nation into Democratic electoral strongholds, using mob violence against bank executives and other shakedown targets, and for ruthlessly exploiting its own employees and going to court to seek an exemption from minimum wage laws.
Fund reports that ULU Local 100 is
a “sub-grantee” providing navigators for the Southern United Neighborhoods group, which received a $600,678 grant to promote Obamacare enrollment. It also received a $270,193 grant for similar work in Arkansas and a $486,123 grant for Louisiana. Marcel Reid, a former dissident board member of ACORN who broke with the group in 2008 over its questionable practices, told me earlier this year, “ACORN is forming new groups under new mismanagement, and if Wade Rathke is involved in any of them, it spells trouble.”Enrollment isn’t going so well at HealthCare.gov.
In the month of October, signups on the Obamacare health insurance exchanges for Medicaid, the joint federal-state welfare program that provides health insurance for the poor, vastly outnumbered signups for private insurance.
“When we first saw the numbers, everyone’s eyes kind of bugged out,” said Matt Salo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors. “Of the people walking through the door, 90 percent are on Medicaid. We’re thinking, what planet is this happening on?”
To make matters worse, flaws in the HealthCare.gov website reportedly allow ineligible individuals anywhere in the world to sign up for Medicaid.
The exchanges themselves are artificial, bureaucrat-created cartels that merely mimic free, competitive markets, perhaps well enough to dupe some people into believing they’re engaging in actual eBay- or Amazon-style commerce. It’s not really shopping, of course, if you have a gun to your head.
Speaking of guns to the head, felons may tapping into confidential personal data stored at HealthCare.gov.
Responding to questions from Sen. Cornyn during a recent congressional hearing, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said it is “possible” that convicted criminals are among Obamacare navigators, who have access to Americans’ personal information.
“Isn’t it true that there is no federal requirement for navigators to undergo a criminal background check,” said Cornyn, “even though they will receive sensitive personal information from the individuals they help to sign-up up for the Affordable Care Act?”
Sebelius replied, “That is true. States could add an additional background checks and other features, but it is not part of the federal requirement.”
Cornyn asked, “So a convicted felon could be a navigator and could acquire sensitive personal information from an individual unbeknownst to them?”
Sebelius answered, “That is possible.”
As FrontPage previously predicted, enrollment has turned into a dangerous free-for-all because Obamacare “navigators” are barely regulated at all. By the way, the only reason there are any “navigators” is to help the Left, as HHS Secretary Sebelius has more or less admitted. Imposing rules would only interfere with community organizers’ ability to wreak havoc and spread the gospel of so-called social justice.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal previously warned that the Obamacare navigator program, like all of Obamacare, is deeply flawed.
“‘Navigator’ is a crafty name, but in reality, there are very few restrictions on who they are, and what exactly they are supposed to be doing,” Jindal says. “‘Navigators’ are supposed to be hired to help consumers understand the law and the insurance coverage provisions in the new health exchanges. Sounds like a job for a rocket scientist.” He continued:
The “navigators” are prohibited from having financial ties to an insurance company, but other than that there are few constraints. Union organizers and community activists are among the types that are allowed to be hired as “navigators,” and having prior experience working in the health care field doesn’t seem to necessarily be a pre-requisite for the job. I wonder what percentage of these “navigators” will be partisan Democrats?Sebelius has been looking to radical left-wing community organizers to fill navigator ranks since at least early last year. In April 2012 she tried to recruit activists at the national convention of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network (NAN).
“In our country what we know is health care inequality [has been] one of the most persistent forms of injustice but over the past three years, as Rev. Sharpton reminded us, we have begun to turn the tide,” Sebelius said at the time. “Now is not the time to turn back.”
The Left has spent the last few weeks rushing to Obamacare’s defense as implementation of the law flames out spectacularly in real time.
Pseudojournalist Alex Seitz-Wald, whose calling is to lie about conservatives and devise new and inventive spin to defend professional leftists, previously lied again and again about ACORN and the O’Keefe sting, falsely accusing O’Keefe of performing misleading edits on the ACORN videos in 2009.
Now, according to Seitz-Wald, it’s Republicans’ fault that Obamacare navigators are corrupt and incompetent.
GOPers are throwing up unnecessary roadblocks meant to stop navigators from performing their noble, selfless tasks, the former Salon reporter writes.
But whether by fees, background checks, tests, extra training, certifications, threats of civil penalties, or delays, Republican legislatures and officials in at least 17 states across the country have thrown up all manner of bureaucratic roadblocks in front of the program. The officials say the regulations are necessary to protect consumers and their personal information, but health care reform advocates say the regulations, adopted only in states controlled by Republicans, are just part of a multipronged campaign to obstruct the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at every turn.Nice try.
Thanks to the excellent, public-spirited work of James O’Keefe and Project Veritas, Seitz-Wald and the other paid professional liars of the left-wing legacy media are going to have to spin harder than that.