By Susan T. Muskett, J.D., Senior Legislative Counsel
Editor’s note. This first ran September 4, 2013.
President Obama’s health care law, ObamaCare, takes the federal government’s relationship with Planned Parenthood to a whole new level. On August 15, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that Planned Parenthood affiliates in Iowa, Montana, and New Hampshire will be funded to serve as ObamaCare “Navigators.” Their combined funding will total over $655,000.
By choosing these Planned Parenthood affiliates to be Navigators in the federally facilitated Exchanges, these Planned Parenthood affiliates will now have the seal of approval of the federal government as an entity that consumers can contact for help in applying for coverage.
Moreover, HHS plans to list the Navigators (e.g., Planned Parenthood) in each federally facilitated Exchange on HHS’ official government website as a resource to help consumers. [78 Fed. Reg. 42848].
As Navigators, they will help Americans select an Exchange health care plan and complete their applications. And they will help consumers determine if they qualify for federal assistance, such as Medicaid, or the federal premium subsidies.
Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in America today. And now, under ObamaCare, some Americans may end up going to a Planned Parenthood center to get the help they need to purchase health insurance. How ironic is that? That our federal government would direct families to affiliates of America’s largest abortion provider for help in purchasing insurance to cover life-preserving treatments?
But Planned Parenthood affiliates will not only serve as ObamaCare “Navigators.” A state that operates its own Exchange, or that partners with the federal government, may choose to fund other health care consumer assistance personnel that are not Navigators, but rather “in-person assisters.” For instance, on August 23, the Minnesota Exchange announced that it had chosen the state Planned Parenthood affiliate to be a recipient of a grant to assist in enrollment.
And then there are the ObamaCare “certified application counselor organizations.” What are certified application counselor organizations, you might ask? You won’t find the term anywhere in the massive ObamaCare law.
The federally facilitated Exchanges will designate certain organizations – community health centers, health care providers, social service agencies, etc. – to be certified application counselor organizations. (A state Exchange can do so also). These organizations will in turn certify their staff members, as well as their volunteers, to be counselors who will assist applicants in completing their applications for health insurance and for federal assistance programs. The organizations and counselors are not expected to be paid by the Exchanges.
Unlike Navigators, who are required to “[p]rovide information and services in a fair, accurate and impartial manner,” certified application counselors are required “to act in the best interest of the applicants assisted.” [78 Fed. Reg. 42826].
Organizations are currently in the process of applying for this designation within federally facilitated Exchanges. Those chosen for the 34 federally facilitated Exchanges will also be listed on HHS’ official website. Which means that if Planned Parenthood clinics apply and are chosen, then this will be an additional means by which HHS will promote Planned Parenthood on its official website.
This is all just one more reason why ObamaCare needs to be repealed.