On Tuesday, September 21, 2013, the junior senator from Texas, Ted Cruz, stood on the Senate floor in an effort to stop a spending bill that would keep the government running until mid-December. He would stand there for the next 21 hours, discussing everything from the horrors of ObamaCare to reading Dr. Seuss. The purpose of this faux-filibuster was to delay the inevitable passage of the continuing resolution – which would also fund the Affordable Care Act.
The desire of the Republican party to prevent ObamaCare has been a major goal since before its passage. Whether trying to defund, delay or repeal, they have made every effort to stop it from taking effect. They’ve even shutdown the government. Still, they failed and signups began October 1 as planned. The question is, why the continued effort to try and stop the inevitable?
As they say, follow the money.
The fervor of trying to denigrate the ACA has been a lucrative effort for conservative organizations. Defunding ObamaCare has made donors open their wallets for several political action committees (PACs), which have seen less than enthusiastic fundraising efforts. Consulting firms that cater to conservative causes are benefiting from ad buys and commissions.
They aren’t the only ones.
Knowing the train has left the station, these same politicians and organizations have been trying to make it more difficult for those eligible for coverage to get it. One of the ways they do this is to increase confusion and disseminate misinformation.
One non-profit funded by the Koch brothers has encouraged young people to not sign up, because they don’t need coverage and it’s cheaper to pay the fine. Another effort is to stop the outreach by navigators – community groups trained and funded by the federal government to disseminate information and help people sign up – from achieving their goals. Florida tried to be more subtle. The Department of Health issued a memo that navigators would not be allowed to use their offices to do their outreach work, which was retracted after pushback from organizations and the media.
Signing up for the ACA is free. People can go to the Health and Human Services website, or directly to the website of their state’s exchange if the state has one. The navigators are there to help those individuals who may not be aware of the ACA as well as help them sign up if they are unable to access the Internet. This is all done without anyone receiving a commission.
Due to lobbying efforts, the ACA allows agents and brokers to work as navigators. However, they work on commission, which gets higher the more expensive the policy. Still, with federal navigators working on salary and saving insurance companies money on commissions, there is a lot of competition.
So they looked to the states to stop them.
The National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) is an organization founded in 1969 by a group of lawmakers who wished to “re-affirm the traditional primacy of the States in the regulation of insurance.” Since 2011, they have been holding conferences, attended by legislators, to discuss the “dangers” of having federally funded navigators share information about insurance policies. Therefore, they created a resolution which encouraged stringent training, licensing and other requirements for navigators.
It’s too early to tell whether or not their diversionary tactics will be successful. Signups have been occurring and levels surpassing expectations and will continue through March 31, 2014. Nevertheless, efforts to discredit and stop it continue.
Next year is an election year, after all.