Short Takes On News & Events

N.C. Navigator: We Didn’t Break The Rules

By Jenny Gold

December 20th, 2013, 8:12 AM

Navigators aren’t allowed to mail paper applications for health insurance to the federal government on behalf of consumers.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Kaiser Health News learned that the hard way after Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., cited an October KHN blog post in a report about risks of fraud among navigators. We incorrectly reported that navigators with North Carolina nonprofit Mountain Projects, Inc., were mailing in paper applications on behalf of the consumers they helped enroll in the exchange back when the healthcare.gov site wasn’t working reliably.

“I have double checked with our navigators and they do not mail applications,” says Patsy Dowling, executive director of Mountain Projects Inc., a 130-employee nonprofit, which has a $360,000 federal grant for consumer outreach.  “Regardless, the report reflects poorly on our agency and could harm all the work we are trying to do in our community.”

Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform released the report, titled Risks of Fraud and Misinformation with ObamaCare Outreach Campaign:  How Navigator and Assister Program Mismanagement Endangers Consumers, on Monday.

We have corrected our blog post and informed Issa’s office of the error.

The post, titled “Navigators Tread Water As Website Problems Continue” and published on Oct. 24, focused on how problems with healthcare.gov and pressure from House Republicans were making it difficult for navigators to enroll consumers in exchanges. The post quotes Dowling saying the problems had “slowed us down.”

As an alternative to the troubled online application process, Dowling explained that Mountain Projects was instead helping consumers fill out the paper applications even though they are “pretty cumbersome and long. It takes much longer [than an online application], but that’s the only option, and people want to feel like they’re enrolling.”

We wrote that the organization was then mailing the applications into the federal government. In fact, consumers were always mailing their applications directly.

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Issa’s committee said in an email that the risk of fraud is greater after an application leaves the hands of the consumer and that the committee would take “a second look at this particular situation” in light of KHN’s correction.

5 Responses to “N.C. Navigator: We Didn’t Break The Rules”

  1. Sarah says:

    In my opinion, there’s is no bigger joke on capital hill than Darrell Issa. As I see it, he has wasted hundreds upon hundreds of hours and millions upon millions of dollars on witch hunts that always turn into boondoggles. In my opinion, he makes McCarthyism look like child’s play. I’d be embarrassed to have him as my Congressman. What are the people of California thinking by sending Issa to Congress?

  2. Joe says:

    Sarah:
    You’re right – although Issa would give a bad name to Pond Scum if that’s what he was. I’m embarrassed that a man like him is allowed to serve in Our conference. He’s not well liked by Californians in any significant part of the state, but when the Republicans last had the chance they gave Issa a safe seat in a district fill with enough far right crocks to elect some as bad as them. His only hope for power to abuse came with the election of a Republican majority in the House. He and his party are wrecking the nation.

  3. patty says:

    Sarah,

    Have you ever heard of gerrymandering?

    As implied above, gerrymandering is a practice that attempts to establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries to create partisan advantaged districts. Most politicians don’t usually act out their latent tendencies to behave badly unless they are protected by a gerrymandered district. That is why, by any measure, today’s politics is not a noble profession of high moral principles. As mentioned above, pond scum can usually be found gravitating to a profession in politics. One need only look at the current Congress as a prime example.

  4. patty says:

    Congress is made up of mostly lawyers and a few doctors that lost their malpractice insurance…need I say more?

  5. Lee says:

    Another example of an Idiot (Issa) spouting of his mouth before checking the facts. Kudos to Kaiser Health for printing the retraction and correction. Can Issa or his staff not check facts before slandering and libeling an Agency like Mountain Projects that does so much good in Western North Carolina? Does no one on his staff have time to make a call to Mountain Projects and ask a few questions. Apparently, his agenda is to try to make headlines instead of correcting real problems. Issa is careless and reckless. It is time for him to be called out. He should come spend a day at Mountain Projects and find out how much good they do in the community.

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