Republicans Come Up With a Devious Plan to Halt Obamacare Enrollment

Written by Igor Volsky

Republican lawmakers who had criticized the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for improperly targeting conservative nonprofits for additional scrutiny kicked off an investigation last week into community-based groups who received Navigator grants to help uninsured people enroll in the exchanges established by the Affordable Care Act, demanding that the organizations answer detailed questions and produce thousands of reams of documents.

Fifteen Republican members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, including Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), are requesting detailed responses and thousands of pages of documents from approximately 60 percent of Navigator-recipients across the country by Sep. 13.

The tactic is reminiscent of the kind of practices Republicans had condemned over the summer, after news broke that the IRS subjected certain groups applying for 501 C4 nonprofit tax status to long, intrusive questionnaires about their filings. Upton personally called such tactics a “thuggish abuse of power” and “simply un-American.”

According to the GOP-backed letter, groups scrambling to begin enrolling individuals in coverage on Oct. 1 will have just two weeks to provide detailed written descriptions of their employees and activities, interactions with the Department of Health and Human Services and “all documentation and communication related to your grant.”

Last month, the Obama administration distributed $67 million in federal grants to more than 100 hospitals, universities, Indian tribes, patient advocacy groups and local food banks “to help people sign up for coverage in new online health insurance marketplaces.”

The effort is just the latest attempt by Republicans to undermine enrollment in the Affordable Care Act. Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee have previously sent letters seeking information to entities tasked with educating the public about the law, opened investigations into public relations companies that had been contracted to promote the law on popular television shows and warned the National Football League (NFL) and National Basketball Association (NBA) against encouraging enrollment in the law.

An HHS spokesperson strongly condemned the committee’s request to Politico, noting, “This is a blatant and shameful attempt to intimidate groups who will be working to inform Americans about their new health insurance options and help them enroll in coverage, just like Medicare counselors have been doing for years.”

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim Ven1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Donna Ferguson
Donna F4 years ago


Sylvia M.
Sylvia M4 years ago

All I know is that it is not universal health coverage, and it still allows the private sector (Insurance companies) to rape people. There is no "Marketplace of choices" so long as there exists more than one insurer. But since the GOP would have done nothing whatsoever had it been up to them, it is a (trial) of a less odious "option."

Robby K.
Past Member 4 years ago

Ellen G- good points.
Abc D- I lost mine b/c of it several yrs ago. Good luck on getting something again. Rates are skyrocketing for policy's that aren't worth the paper they're printed on. People are losing jobs & hrs b/c it. Bang up job so far...

And it's got nothing to do w/not wanting people to have insurance. IF republicans are such greedy corporate lovers, you'd think they'd LOVE forcing people to buy crappy policies, wouldn't you? I mean, surely they're all getting their pockets padded by the insurance companies &/or just own them outright...? The fact is, no one will be able to afford good healthcare. Dems & reps alike will be paying more & lucky if they can keep what they've got. The rest of us peons will have to deal w/bottom level crap w/high premiums, & deductibles or copays. OR face fines to the IRS! I don' have insurance, can't afford insurance, have previous existing conditions, which even if they can't refuse me for, can cost me more... Again, great job guys!

Abc Defgh
Past Member 4 years ago

I lost my health insurance that I was happy with a few months ago supposedly due to "Obamacare." I had private insurance partially funded by New York State (NYS), and the private insurer dropped it, and so did several other private NYS insurers with many customers in NYS. I was sent a letter by the federal government that I could join the federal gov't health program except, the premium was higher and the benefits did not include full coverage, and other benefits such as opthamology--it was a rip off. It would be cheaper for me to go to a health clinic in Manhattan.I do not trust the politicians. As a female, I do not feel that many of the politicians (Republicans or Democrats) or media care about womens health care. I am waiting to see what happens when "Obamacare" fully rolls in in January--if there are any real options.

Ellen Gaston
Ellen Gaston4 years ago

The Navigators will be obtaining very private information from people. They are not required to have any background checks. A criminal could be obtaining your private information. That is what the Republicans are calling for...a vetting of the Navigators. You would think there would be some Democrats equally interested in who, exactly, will be doing the Government's work on behalf of the people. I am not surprised at this typical ThinkProgress article of activism disguised as journalism, but surely even ThinkProgress would be wary of some Joe Blow getting ahold of private information unchecked.

Kevin W.
Kevin W4 years ago

These Republican tactics are completely expected and will likely continue as the Relublicans are TERRIFIED that the Affordable Care Act will succeed. They are afraid that the residual impact of a success will be akin to the impact of social security's success - 40 years of Democratic control of congress. Personally, I hope they're right and that the Affordable care Act is a wild success. I am self employed and need both hips replaced as well as back surgery from injuries I sustained many years ago as a volunteer firefighter. Until just recently, insurance companies rejected me out of hand for health insurance coverage because of my pre-existing conditions. Now that they can no longer do that, they have offered me insurance plans at the bargain price of $2,000 per month. Woo Hoo !! I can't wait for the insurance exchanges to be up and running on Oct. 1st so that I can finally have access to affordable health insurance and health care. The Replubicans have my undying gratitude for keeping my best interests in mind - NOT !!

Catherine H.
Cate R4 years ago

I have to agree with Dale regarding universal healthcare as we have that advantage in Australia as well. We don't say God Bless Australia here, we say Thank God for Australia. Our universal healthcare may come under renewed attack and be actively dismantled in many area's by our newly elected conservative government but even they would not reduce Australian healthcare to the woeful levels provided to a vast number of American citizens by the American government for fear of the backlash at the polls.

Dylan Thomas
Dylan Thomas4 years ago

elaine a. with all due respect, be more specific, exactly what is so devious about obama care?
and provide verifiable unbiased facts to back it up. it's romneycare. it was designed by the heritage foundation. to me the only thing devious about obamacare is the fact that obama took it from the republiCONS. i'm for single payer, or at least the public option. the best i can say about obamacare/romneycare/heritage foundationcare is that it beats nothing at all.

Dale O.

There is nothing more devious, Mary B, than the nefarious fear and loathing that Republicans and teabaggers have of providing decent access to health care to all Americans, no matter what their income level is.