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Republican leaders Senator Mitch McConnell (R) and John Boehner speak after a bipartisan meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington June 10, 2010. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS)
Republicans have stumbled onto their newest shiny object of Obamacare trollery: The claim that people should avoid Affordable Care Act Navigators because instead of helping people sign up for health insurance, navigators might actually be identify thieves:
It all seems to have stemmed from a line of questioning that Cornyn posed to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Nov. 6, at a hearing that was supposed to focus on

"Isn't it true that there is no federal requirement for navigators to undergo a criminal background, even though they will receive personal -- sensitive personal information from the individuals they helped sign up for the Affordable Care Act?" Cornyn inquired.

"That is true. States could add an additional background check and other features, but it is not part of the federal requirement," Sebelius replied.

"So a convicted felon could be a navigator and could acquire sensitive personal information from an individual, unbeknownst to them," Cornyn said.

"That is possible," Sebelius said.

And predictably:
The next day on the Senate floor, [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell seized on Sebelius's comments: "These revelations are really concerning."

“Americans who’ve lost their insurance and find themselves forced onto the exchanges -- the last thing they need is to worry about some felon stealing their identity," he said.

Scandal! Shock! Outrage! Rogue Obamacare navigators are stealing your identity as we speak!

Scary ... except, with all due respect to the Mitch and his fellow Republican senators, what Sebelius was actually saying was that while their doomsday scenario was theoretically conceivable, in practice (a) the Federal government contracts with organizations like United Way and local universities to act as navigators, (b) there are safeguards in place to protect sensitive information, and (c) states can add additional requirements if they so choose.

In fact, as it turns out, there are more safeguards preventing rogue navigators than there are safeguards preventing rampant criminality in the Congress, because under the U.S. Constitution, it's perfectly legal for a felon to serve in U.S. House or Senate. Once elected, the only thing stopping him or her would be the possibility of expulsion.

The real question that Sebelius should have been asked is whether there is any evidence that this is something that Americans who want to get health insurance should be concerned about. The answer to that is no: this is a threat that exists in the GOP's imagination alone. If there's anything they should be worried about, it's the possibility of having a health emergency without having health insurance. And if the Republican scare tactic succeeds, that's exactly what will happen to many Americans.

Originally posted to The Jed Report on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:48 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  They do elect crooks nt (9+ / 0-)

    nosotros no somos estúpidos

    by a2nite on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:57:28 AM PST

    •  They are the Crooks (0+ / 0-)

      Repub's will take away what they want to hear and use. ALL politicians take away what they want as long as it benefits them.

      We need to get Warren Buffets Congressional Reform signed into law and get all these morons back on the same field as the rest of us. Make these people have to pick from the same insurance and have to invest in Social Security like the rest of us do. The Toronto Mayor fell of his pedestal because he is human. Everybody that is in office is human...hopefully....but they have long forgotten that and why they are in office. WE are mostly responsible for that. Time to remind them that they are Public Servants and we need a way to fire them. I want to start a petition to get Buffet's idea of Congressional Reform going for real and into law. Does anybody think that is a good idea?  

  •  She could have jousted those answers a little (13+ / 0-)

    better than she did.

    Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

    by Floyd Blue on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 08:58:47 AM PST

    •  Agreed, and in fact I'd add... (6+ / 0-)

      ...that she should have. Really amazing to me that a politician wouldn't understand that phrasing things the way she did was creating an opening that didn't need to be created.

      Obviously that doesn't justify what the GOP is trying to do, but wouldn't it be nice if she had made it harder for them to do it?

      •  Thank you! What I don't like is, as you noted, (0+ / 0-)

        she created openings for followup that were unnecessary; as well as damning sound bites.

        Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

        by Floyd Blue on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:26:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  She might have said: (0+ / 0-)

          "It's a remote possibility, just like there's a remote possibility of identity theft every time you give a merchant your credit card.  Yet most of us are willing to hand our credit cards to strangers at the grocery store, because the need for groceries outweighs the relatively small risk of identity theft.  Likewise, most people would say the need for healthcare coverage outweighs the minuscule risk of identity theft.  

             And in the rare cases where it might happen, the identity thieves should be pursued and prosecuted, just like we would seek to prosecute anybody who steals someone's credit card information.

             No one should be deterred from seeking assistance from healthcare navigators because there is a remote possibility of identity theft, just like no one should be deterred from seeking assistance with registering to vote, just because there is a remote possibility that a partisan Republican volunteer might decide to throw all Democratic registrations into the dumpster.  Although I seem to recall that has happened..."

    •  Better She Didn't (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      What kind of "jousting" would you prefer? That she lie and say that the personal medical info is safe, even though the ACA does expose it to this very real risk?

      Why is it OK that the law's many problems includes exposing our privacy to a risk like this? Because it's a Democratic president's signature legislation? Because a Republican doesn't like it?

      Partisan jousting is more important than the security of our privacy. It's not just for Republicans anymore.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:29:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Who said anything about lying?? (0+ / 0-)

        Politicians, and even people, joust all the time.

        One can phrase something on the record, and tell the truth, without, as Jed noted, giving the opposition (who wants to literally destroy all you do and all you stand for) more openings.

        Please know I am not rude. I cannot rec anything from this browser. When I rec or post diaries I am a guest at some exotic locale's computer. Ayn is the bane!

        by Floyd Blue on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:24:39 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  So What Kind? (0+ / 0-)

          So what kind of "jousting" would you prefer? Not lying, OK. What kind of evasion would you like to see the HHS Cabinet Secretary give to a legitimate question about a real and serious flaw in the ACA that is otherwise not being addressed?

          What's the honest method for the administration to avoid protecting our private medical info?

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 12:27:33 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Try to be realistic, pls. Why go thru the bother o (0+ / 0-)

        f being a Navigator in order to do something something something...

        when Americans will email you their personal info if a 'Nigerian prince' requests it.

        This 'problem' and 'risk' to privacy is about as serious as a gnat.  

        Especially when the NSA already has it all.  Now that is a real risk you should be working to curtail.

    •  She could have pointed out (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that every time we use a credit card someone could steal the personal information that most of us care about  i.e. our credit card number along with our name. Does this mean we should just not use credit cards?

      music- the universal language

      by daveygodigaditch on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:23:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Rubublicans? Don't you mean Libeals??? (0+ / 1-)
      Recommended by:
      Hidden by:

      Ever heard of Alcee hastings? Or Jessie Jackson Jr?  This site is so funny!

  •  Not true. Americans should be concerned about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mother Mags, leonard145b, Matt Z

    a Congress that routinely makes thievery legal and works overtime to deprive them of their rights.

  •  It is certainly true that convicted felons can (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JML9999, nextstep, DocGonzo, blue aardvark

    serve in Congress. So what? I think the founders felt that in the process of an election the candidates would be judged by the voters who could make a determination regarding the background of any candidate and their ability to serve.

    The fact that there are no requirements for navigators is a legitimate issue. My guess is that navigators don't go through anything like the vetting of Congressional candidates. Why compare the two?

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:05:14 AM PST

  •  Prison labor. Some prison work programs (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue aardvark, jan4insight

    have prisoners doing call center jobs.

    I want 1 less Tiny Coffin, Why Don't You? Support The President's Gun Violence Plan.

    by JML9999 on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:16:08 AM PST

  •  And death panels! n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, jan4insight

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:18:02 AM PST

  •  no surprise, that little shit o'keefe is at it (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Matt Z, jan4insight, MBramble

    again.... trying to entrap the navigators, as well.

    there's a diary on the list about it now.

    everyday something new, it's freaking unreal.
    whatever they can come up with... they are determined to destroy this thing.

    every adult is responsible for every child

    by ridemybike on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:19:02 AM PST

  •  Another Republican "new rule" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, chrismorgan, DMentalist

    that only applies to this specific scenario.

    Money doesn't talk it swears.

    by Coss on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:20:05 AM PST

  •  Could be?????? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, gritsngumbo

    Isn't being a traitor still a crime? Every Rethug in Congress should be in prison doing hard time, not country club prison. They could start with Cruz.

  •  It's theoretically possible some ACA Navigators... (5+ / 0-)

    are insect aliens uncover until their invasion force is ready and Turtleman will be asking if Obama is selling out the Earth for the new insect overlords that Mitch will be welcoming.

    •  We Need to Cancel the 2020 Census.... (0+ / 0-)

      ....Because it's theoretically possible that a Census gatherer could commit suicide and try to make it look  like he was the victim of a hate crime so that his family can still collect the life insurance money.

           Oh, wait a minute, that's already happened.  

           Guess this whole decennial Census thing in our Constitution was just a big mistake....Better just stop trying to COUNT people in America.  It's just too risky.  

  •  Did they mention Grand Theft Auto Issa by name? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joes Steven, blue aardvark, Matt Z, Mike S

    I think that Republicanism is revealing itself as a personality disorder, not so much an ideology." -- Naomi Klein

    by AllanTBG on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:22:49 AM PST

  •  No, This Is Serious (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    No. That line of questioning did indeed reveal that our personal medical information is vulnerable to exploitation by ACA Navigators. Just because someone works for United Way or whoever doesn't mean they can always be trusted with our personal information.

    And the statement "there are safeguards in place to protect sensitive information" is not worth the photons it's printed on, while Obama's out there telling us that about the NSA. That statement is the biggest lie since "there are WMD in Iraq".

    Just because this is Obama's law doesn't mean Democrats should lie about the problems with it. DKos shouldn't be pretending that this serious privacy vulnerability doesn't exist just because a Republican noticed it in public.

    Partisanship kills. Like all mindless bigotry, it's worst when favoring its own, and hardest to eliminate.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:26:55 AM PST

    •  And people steal foster childrens' identities all (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue aardvark, shoeless, chrismorgan

      time. The only way to stop it is stop ObamACAre.

      I am so glad the identity theft problem is being addressed by Congress, and who would have thought this 30 year old problem could be solved by something so simple.

      Thank you President Obama, had you never started ObamACAre, we never would have solved the identity theft problem in this country.

      Why is it easier to buy a gun than it is to register to vote in most states?

      by 88kathy on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:32:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Should Be Stopped (0+ / 0-)

        Yours is the kind of argument that really doesn't deserve a reply. But since "two wrongs make a right" is so common, have a reply.

        Just because other laws are faulty in this way doesn't make it OK for this law to make the risk even higher. In fact the reasonable response is to not only reduce the ACA risk to privacy, but to reduce the foster system's risks to privacy. We will not 100% eliminate privacy and identity violations, but we will reduce them, which is better.

        I don't suppose you're against labor laws just because they can't guarantee everyone will have a safe job paying what it costs them to survive.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:43:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is not what I am saying at all. (0+ / 0-)

          I am not saying 2 wrongs make a right.

          I am saying that it has been documented for many years that the foster care system has allowed stealing of identities of kids in the system.


          So what should they have done? I don't know abolished the foster care system. (I am sure they would think that was an option) Or fixed the problem.

          They did neither.

          They obviously are interested in one thing getting OBAMA. Identity theft of vulnerable people in the system means nothing to them.

          513,000 children were in the U.S. foster care system on September 30, 2005. Most children are placed temporarily in foster care due to parental abuse or neglect.
          And that is not a static number. Kids go in and out of the system and their information is vulnerable. Maybe if Congress had fixed this problem that was real and documented, they wouldn't have any worries about it happening in an imaginary scenario.

          Why is it easier to buy a gun than it is to register to vote in most states?

          by 88kathy on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:04:53 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  What You Are Saying (0+ / 0-)

            You are saying that since X allows identity theft, and Y allows identity theft, that we shouldn't care that Y allows identity theft.

            Since you evidently care about foster care allowing identity theft, you should care about ACA Navigators causing identity theft.

            Please give me a reasonable argument that says we shouldn't care about ACA Navigators stealing identities and otherwise abusing people's privacy. So far all you've done is tell me all you care about is foster care identity theft, and asserted that identity theft by ACA Navigators is "imaginary".

            Almost every consequence of ACA is so far "imaginary", because the law has only now been implemented. Are you saying that the ACA is perfect? Of course not.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 12:25:45 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  People have been stealing identities for decades. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Matt Z, jan4insight, MBramble, shoeless

    This is the first time Congress has wanted to do something about it.

    Stop poor people from getting medical insurance!!!  Why didn't we think of that before????

    Why is it easier to buy a gun than it is to register to vote in most states?

    by 88kathy on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:28:17 AM PST

  •  Ask them what protections there are (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jan4insight, shoeless

    against someone setting up a fake website for conservative issues and stealing the ID of contributors.

    I'm on a mission! Testing the new site rules.

    by blue aardvark on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:32:58 AM PST

  •  Where else would all those ACORN operatives (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blue aardvark, Matt Z, shoeless

    find work?

    "Where some see a system for encouraging discussion . . . others see an echo chamber of bad grammar, unchecked stupidity, and constructive interference . . . " -- Ars Technica

    by Rikon Snow on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:35:57 AM PST

  •  Governor of Florida comes to mind. /nt (5+ / 0-)

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:36:32 AM PST

  •  reeks of desperation (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hohenzollern, Matt Z, MBramble, ekgrulez1

    if they've got to make up egregious lies to smear the administration then they got nothin.  The website problems story is already fading so they've got to come up with - or invent - a new line of attack.

    "Kossacks are held to a higher standard. Like Hebrew National hot dogs." - blueaardvark

    by louisev on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:38:52 AM PST

  •  If Republicans are so sure the law is unworkable, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, a2nite, shoeless

    and will collapse of its own weight in time, why are they so dedicated from it going into effect in the first place?

  •  Evidence on Navigators (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z

    We need not worry about the theoretical possibility of unscrupulous navigators. After all, we've had nearly 7 weeks without a problem (that we know of). Who could ask for better?

  •  so concerned about privacy... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I just attended a meeting at my daughter's school about financial aid for college and how to fill out the FAFSA form to find out if we are eligible for financial aid.  Talk about having to disclose private information!  You have to fill in basically everything from your tax return and all your asset information for both parents and child and submit it all online.  

    The FAFSA has been around forever, and it is a very complicated website that shares personal financial information with many schools and I have never heard anyone raise a stink about it.  But of course the Federal Government makes a profit from providing student loans...

    •  FAFSA is a major pain in the ass. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This doesn't have anything to do with this article. I just wanted to say what a major pain in the ass it is. Been filling it out since 2007.

      If there were a Liberal Media, there wouldn't be a republican party.

      by ComradeAnon on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:52:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was only drawing a parallel (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DMentalist, Tronsix2

        The GOP has been raising a big ruckus about people having to divulge personal information on the ACA website to potential felons.  There are many other examples of Americans interacting with Federal websites including the FAFSA, divulging personal information, that haven't had the dire consequences that the Republicans are predicting with the ACA.  It is just another red herring...

  •  As long as we don't let a republican (0+ / 0-)

    take a job as a Navigator, we don;t need to worry.

    If there were a Liberal Media, there wouldn't be a republican party.

    by ComradeAnon on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 09:50:30 AM PST

  •  I hope (0+ / 0-)

    I live long enough to see these traitors to our country forced to take responsibility for their actions. I never would have believed it could get this bad so quickly.

  •  Fire Sibelius now. She can't answer a simple, (0+ / 0-)

    stupid, leading question without handing the GOP a talking point! Jeebus! Double Jeebus! Doesn't she know how to talk back, "with respect, sir"?

  •  Bagger Locic (0+ / 0-)

    the crooks are worried about crooks being crooks?

  •  Republicans are criminals in Congress. (0+ / 0-)

    Stealing your right to vote, stealing your right to an abortion, stealing your civil rights, etc.

    #e5721e must go! Something bluer would be nice. - 16382

    by glb3 on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 10:41:54 AM PST

  •  We can't have background checks . . . (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    . . . Those would-be Navigators may be gun-owners.  Or may want to buy a gun with the money they make being Navigators.  We can't have them getting background checks because Freedumb.

  •  I thought Republicans hated background checks. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DMentalist, Tronsix2

    The problem with political jokes is they get elected.

    by shoeless on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 11:08:29 AM PST

  •  A beautiful comparison! (0+ / 0-)

    “...there are more safeguards preventing rogue navigators than there are safeguards preventing rampant criminality by members of Congress...”

    If only Secretary Sebelius had answered thus!
    That might have gotten wonderful press coverage.

    “The meaning of life is to find it.”

    by ArcticStones on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 11:51:25 AM PST

  •  What's the shock? Why "could be"? (0+ / 0-)
    "Shocking revelation: Republicans could be electing criminals to Congress"

    We're all pretty strange one way or another; some of us just hide it better. "Normal" is a dryer setting.

    by david78209 on Mon Nov 18, 2013 at 12:38:07 PM PST

  •  And, 'forced to" save $ on 'the exhange", HORRORS! (0+ / 0-)

    Really, McTurtle, that's the best you can come up with? Srsly?

    Not that D-pols will think to give this perfect response.

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