The Richmond Times Dispatch's A. Barton Hinkle attacked Obamacare with several falsehoods in his latest Sunday column by blaming the president for the delays in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and ignoring the role of an obstructive Republican majority in the House. Hinkle also overlooked Virginia's role in regulating health care navigators, those charged with guiding the uninsured to the best coverage, and instead suggested the federal government would be careless with private information.
Columnist Claims Delay In Portions Of ACA Implementation Are President Obama's Fault
The Richmond Times Dispatch's Hinkle Blamed Obama For The Delays In Portions Of The Affordable Care Act. An August 25 column by Richmond Times Dispatch columnist A. Barton Hinkle accused the President of experiencing "buyers' remorse" over the ACA because he has "delayed or diminished three key components of the law":
Now that we know, many Americans are experiencing buyers' remorse -- notably the American in the Oval Office. President Obama already has delayed or diminished three key components of the law: the employer mandate, which requires businesses to provide insurance to workers or face a penalty; the requirement that those applying for subsidies to purchase insurance through state exchanges show proof of eligibility; and the caps on out-of-pocket insurance expenses such as copayments and deductibles. [Richmond Times Dispatch, 8/25/13]
GOP Congressional Obstruction Shares Blame For Delays Of ACA Impementation
The Washington Post: Political Opposition Has "Hampered [The ACA's] Implementation." On July 2, following the announcement of the delay of the employee mandate, The Washington Post credited Republican opposition as a major roadblock to fully enacting the ACA:
The White House on Tuesday delayed for one year a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that businesses provide health insurance to employees, a fresh setback for President Obama's landmark health-care overhaul as it enters a critical phase.
The decision comes as a result of years of bumps and setbacks for the overhaul, including legal challenges and political opposition that have hampered its implementation. Last summer, the Supreme Court upheld the law but struck down a mandatory expansion of Medicaid. State officials and businesses held off changing their policies through the 2012 presidential campaign because Obama's GOP opponent, Mitt Romney, had promised to repeal the law. [The Washington Post, 7/2/13]
80 House Republicans Would Rather Shut Down The Government Than Allow Implementation Of ACA. The Washington Post reported on August 23 that many House Republicans are willing cause a government shutdown to prevent the ACA from moving forward. A letter signed by 80 Republicans was sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) asking him to prevent funding legislation tied to the ACA:
More than a third of House Republicans urged their leader Thursday to trigger a government shutdown rather than fund the implementation of the health care overhaul they call "Obamacare."
A letter from 80 Republicans asked Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, to resist any spending bills that would accommodate the new health care law, which is nearing a critical stage of signing up millions of Americans for health coverage.
Because it's virtually certain that President Barack Obama and the Democratic-controlled Senate would reject such demands, leaders of both parties say the standoff likely would result in a partial shutdown of the federal government, similar to those that occurred in 1995 and 1996. [The Washington Post, 8/23/13]
Columnist Claims Navigator Program Makes Private Information Vulnerable
Hinkle: Trusting Health Care Navigators Is Akin To Trusting The NSA. In his column Hinkle warned that health insurance navigators should not be trusted based solely on their federal government training and laws set up to protect privacy:
Administration officials have insisted the law "maintains strict privacy controls to safeguard personal information." That sounds comforting. Then again, it sounded comforting when Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was asked whether the NSA collects "any type of data at all" on millions of Americans and replied "No, sir." We all know how true that statement was now. [The Richmond Times Dispatch, 8/25/13]
Virginia Requires Training, Privacy Requirements Of Navigators
The Hill: Navigators "Will Help People Make Sense Of Their Options Under Obamacare." The Hill described navigators as people who will be informed on the details of enrolling in insurance, but will not be agents of insurance company:
The Health and Human Services Department on Friday finalized rules for the "navigators" who will help people make sense of their options under ObamaCare.
Traditional insurance agents cannot be certified as navigators, because navigators cannot be paid by a specific insurance company -- their charge is to help explain the system, not to sell a particular product.
"Navigators will be trained to play a vital role in fulfilling our commitment to help consumers learn about and apply for quality health insurance when open enrollment for consumers in the Marketplaces begins October 1," said Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. [The Hill, 7/12/13]
Virginia Has State-Specific Regulations On Navigators. The Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms listed Virginia as one of 14 states that had passed legislation defining state specific regulations on the training of navigators, including a requirement that they obtain a license before operating in the state:
To date, at least 19 states with federally facilitated exchanges (including state-partnership exchanges) have enacted, or are currently considering, legislation that imposes state-specific requirements on navigators. Of these, 14--Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin--have already passed such legislation.
Most of the bills require a navigator to obtain state licensure or approval before operating in the state. Many also establish training requirements, require criminal background checks, and authorize disciplinary measures against navigators. Some bills also subject navigators to existing insurance law (such as privacy and unfair trade practices standards) or require navigators to secure financial protection against wrongdoing. [The Commonwealth Fund, 7/1/13]
Navigators Are Prohibited From Violating Privacy Requirements And Subject To Oversight By The State Corporation Commission. Virginia law specifically prohibits navigators from violating "any unfair trade practice and privacy requirements." The law also requires the state to review any reports of violations to these requirements:
That the State Corporation Commission, through its review of complaints concerning activities of navigators pursuant to subsection C of § 38.2-3448, shall monitor the activities of navigators in the Commonwealth to determine whether and to what extent navigators operating in the Commonwealth have engaged in prohibited practices. The Commission shall report its findings to the Governor and the chairs of the Senate and House Commerce and Labor Committees annually on November 15, 2014, and November 15, 2015. [Health Benefit Exchange, Code of Virginia, Chapter 34 of Title 38.2, Article 7, accessed 8/26/13]