If you have to keep it a secret, you probably shouldn’t be doing it.
But the California legislature and the new Covered California health insurance exchange are conspiring to keep secret how they will dole out more than half a billion dollars in taxpayer dollars to contractors. The lion’s share of the money is going for what the exchange budget terms “outreach.” In truth, the money is going to build Democratic Party enrollment.
The Obama administration granted a whopping $910 million to California to set up its insurance exchange. That money is not for bandages, surgery, nurses and doctors to care for the sick. Nor is it for insurance plans, though $910 million could buy generous coverage for at least 113,000 people!
Shockingly, the $910 million is slated for bureaucracy, including rich compensation packages for exchange employees ($360,000 a year for the executive director) and contracts for computer equipment, public relations and “outreach. ”
Outreach is the largest expenditure and where the real monkey business occurs.
Amazingly, California legislators passed a law that the exchange could keep secret for a year who received the contracts and indefinitely how much they were paid. California’s open-records laws would otherwise prohibit such secrecy.
Last week, Republican U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and four other Republican Senators on the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions called for an investigation of California’s concealing information on contracts awarded using federal taxpayer money.
What is known so far suggests that California politicians are exploiting health reform to enroll millions of the uninsured in the Democratic Party and fill the coffers of left-wing interest groups with taxpayer money.
Here are the facts to back up that cynical picture:
California lawmakers passed a law (Senate Bill #35) requiring that voter registration be part of the health insurance exchange.
Last month, Covered California announced $37 million in grants to 48 organizations to build public awareness about the opening of the health exchange on Oct. 1.
Of the 48 organizations that got grants, only a handful are health-care related. The California NAACP received $600,000 to do door-to-door canvassing and presentations at community organizations.
Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which says its mission is “economic justice,” received two grants totaling $2,000,000 to make phone calls, robo-calls and go door-to-door.
The Los Angeles County Federation of Labor AFL-CIO got $1 million for door-to-door, one-on-one education and social networking. It describes its role as “engaging in both organizing and political campaigns, electing pro-union and pro-worker candidates.”
Community Health Councils, a California organization with a long history of political activism against fracking, for-profit hospitals, state budget cuts and oil exploration, got $1 million to conduct presentations at community and neighborhood meetings and one-to-one sessions.
These organizations, closely allied with the Democratic Party, are being funded by your tax dollars to conduct “outreach,” meaning the kind of phone banking and door-to-door canvassing that activists do to turn out the vote. They will turn out the uninsured to enroll on the exchanges and in the Democratic Party.
The $37 million awarded last month is only the first installment of California’s $190.4 million to be spent on contracts for “outreach” through December 2014.
In addition to outreach, California’s actual enrollment process is also outsourced to employees of community organizations, unions and health clinics. These enrollment “assisters” will be paid $58 for each enrollee they sign up. An additional $49 million is budgeted to pay them the first year, but in future years, assisters will be paid out of the premiums collected by the exchange. The template is repeated in every state. The Obama health law creates a permanent stream of funding for unions and community activists by outsourcing insurance enrollment to them.
Assisters will also guide the uninsured to sign up for whatever non-health social services they may be eligible for, including welfare, food stamps and housing assistance, according to the manual prepared by the Community Health Councils for California’s implementation.
Anyone who remembers the days of James Curley, Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall gets the picture. If you were poor or a newcomer to this country, you went to the local ward boss and got whatever you needed in exchange for your vote. The difference is that back then, politics was local. Now the Obama health law is institutionalizing this corrupt style of politics across the country. Whether you live in California or New York, local community activists and unions will be recruiting people to enroll in Obamacare and sign up to be part of the permanent, beholden Democratic voting majority.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York, founder of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and the author of “Beating Obamacare.”