September 9, 2013

The president’s handling of Syria is taking up virtually all the political oxygen. But speaking of train wrecks, let’s not forget about Obamacare.

President Obama
President Obama (Jason Reed/Reuters)

The Associated Press reports on the mad dash to get the exchanges up and running:

More than 100 nonprofits and related organizations, which specialize in everything from running soup kitchens to organizing farm workers, have been recruited by the federal government to sign up “navigators” to help the 30 million uninsured people who can now gain coverage.

Many of the groups have little expertise in health insurance. And the timeline for training the workers is tight. According to the new health law, people can begin shopping among the new policies on Oct. 1. The enrollment period lasts six months. Coverage begins in January.

“I think there’s a lot of concern about whether, with all these state requirements, they are going to be ready to go,” said Katie Keith, a former research professor at Georgetown University, who has been tracking the health care legislation. “You want people out there educating consumers.”

Millions of uninformed “navigators” steering the even more uniformed public into critical decisions about their health care: What could go wrong?

Frankly, if the Obama administration won’t suspend the individual mandate (as it did the employer mandate), the feds should be responsible for all the (mis)representations and (bad) advice its agents are passing around. Why should individuals, for example, suffer some real-world consequences (e.g. failing to sign up for employer-provided insurance) because the navigators give them incorrect or incomplete advice?

Moreover, if a state’s exchange is not able to function properly on Oct. 1, do the citizens of the affected states get additional time to enroll?

Maybe the next House Obamacare vote should be on whether the federal government is willing to pay for navigators’ mistakes. Spousal coverage, for example, may hinge on whether the customer gets correct information on the availability and cost of employer vs. Obamacare healthcare coverage.

If the feds won’t stand behind the representations of its navigators, it will be an eye-opener regarding how little faith the administration has in their own program.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.