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House Panel Report Critical Of ACA Navigators

A Republican-led U.S. House panel released documents Monday accusing Affordable Care Act navigators of many errors and putting private information at risk.

The navigators under the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, are responsible for helping consumers enroll in health plans.

Documents released with the report contended the navigators -- designated under the Affordable Care Act to help consumers enroll in health plans -- have been giving enrollees misinformation, and haven't done enough to protect consumers' health information, Social Security numbers, yearly income and other tax information, The Hill reported.

"Documents call into question the effectiveness of the Navigator program and the Obama administration's ability to safeguard consumer information," the committee report concluded.

Some of the navigators also "encouraged consumers to commit tax fraud by under-reporting income in order to qualify for Obamacare's health insurance subsidies," the report said.

The report, issued by the House Oversight Committee led by Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also said some navigators violated rules by mailing in consumers' paper applications instead of the applicants posting them as required by the healthcare law.

Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said navigators weren't any different from Medicare counselors who have "operated effectively for years."

"We take any alleged impropriety seriously and take immediate action in cases where navigators have failed to live up to their responsibilities," Peters told The Hill in an email. "This is just the latest attempt to try to prevent Americans from accessing the quality, affordable coverage available to them under the healthcare law."

Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also ripped the report, accusing the GOP committee chairman of trying to undermine the law.

The Issa report was released in conjunction with a hearing the committee had in Dallas, called "Obamacare implementation: Who are the Navigators?"

Other field meetings conducted by Issa's committee have been criticized for the lack of witnesses who may speak favorably about the Affordable Care Act.

"What opponents of the new law could not do legislatively, at the ballot box, or even by shutting down the federal government, they're now trying to do through other means," Sebelius said in a commentary in the Dallas Morning News. "Case in point is Monday's congressional hearing in Dallas, designed to stifle, intimidate and impugn the reputation of people who have been working hard to help their fellow Texans get covered."

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Issa announced Friday that an ACA contractor would comply with a subpoena he issued, despite efforts by the administration and some Democrats to keep the documents out of his hands, The Hill said.

The Obama administration and Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, have questioned Issa's credibility, saying has displayed a "reckless pattern" of leaking confidential information in such a manner that promotes "inaccurate" media coverage -- which Issa disputes.

Copyright: Copyright 2013 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
Source: United Press International
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