AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

Marco Rubio: Protect Americans from Obamacare con artists

 
 
RUBIO
RUBIO
US Senate Photographic Studio-Renee Bouchard

Rubio.senate.gov

We are now entering the seventh week since Obamacare’s exchanges went live, and several big problems remain clear.

• First, the website where people are supposed to buy insurance — or be penalized by the IRS for not doing so — is still plagued by technical problems and security concerns.

• Second, despite hundreds of millions of dollars devoted to a Spanish-language Obamacare propaganda campaign, the Spanish-language Obamacare website hasn’t even been launched yet.

• And, most troubling, is that millions of Americans are now being notified that they will lose the health plans they were happy with, along with the doctors they know and trust — something President Obama promised would never happen under Obamacare, although recent revelations show his administration has known for at least three years this was inevitable.

All this means millions of Americans now have to shop for new health-insurance plans, but the websites they are supposed to buy insurance don’t work. In response, President Obama and his administration have steered people toward a 1-800 help line and in-person enrollment through Obamacare’s network of so-called “navigators.”

This is a troubling proposition for the American people who are now being forced into other Obamacare enrollment options that could make them more susceptible to fraud and personal identity theft. As Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius admitted last week, there is no uniform standard of background checks conducted on navigators, and nothing to prevent convicted felons from becoming navigators.

Americans know all too well the high personal and economic costs of fraud in our healthcare industry. For example, each year in Florida, we see hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars vanish into the hands of Medicare and Medicaid fraudsters, many of whom have found refuge from the American justice system in places like Cuba. And Hispanics in particular should be wary of entrusting just anyone to help them fill out government applications, as so many in our community have been victimized by so-called notarios, who take immigrants’ money and immigration paperwork, and then do nothing for them.

As Obamacare’s website failures push more people toward non-web enrollment options, the same kind of con artists who have been defrauding Medicare, Medicaid and immigrants will be inclined to do the same through Obamacare’s navigator network.

And as time goes on, we will inevitably see more cases of people fraudulently posing as navigators, collecting personal information and then exploiting innocent victims. And while some states like Florida have taken proactive steps to raise standards for aspiring navigators and toughen consumer protection safeguards, many states have not.

This is a recipe for people falling prey to fraud, identity theft or gross incompetence by those operating as Obamacare navigators.

It is unacceptable that President Obama is forcing the American people to blindly trust the federal government’s website security and its network of navigators to help them comply with Obamacare. As consumers are being pushed to shop for insurance through Obamacare, navigators and other non-online options, they proceed with great care and caution against fraudsters intending to do them harm.

Congress should also act, which is why I have introduced common-sense legislation to protect Americans from Obamacare-related identity theft committed by fraudulent navigators, crack down on fraudsters and raise background-check standards for people applying to be navigators.

While this is not a fool-proof solution to address Obamacare’s problems, it is one that will provide a greater degree of protection and relief to the people dealing with the Obamacare’s consequences. While I believe Obamacare as a whole should be repealed and replaced, until we can do so, we must protect our people from its flaws.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio represents Florida in the U.S. Senate.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

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Tony Lesesne

    STOPPED BY COPS

    Tony Lesesne: Overkill, and an apology

    Yes, it happens in South Florida, too — and it shouldn’t. Black men pulled over, needlessly hassled by police officers who give the rest of their colleagues a bad name, who make no distinction when a suspect has no other description than ‘black male,’ who harass residents because they can. A North Miami Beach officer pulls over a black man in a suit and tie — and behind the wheel of an Audi that simply had to be stolen, right? In another Miami-Dade city, an officer demands that an African-American man installing a vegetable garden justify why he has a shovel and seedlings. Detained for possession of cilantro? Here are five South Floridians who tell of their experiences in this community and beyond, years ago, and all too recently.

  •  
Delrish Moss

    STOPPED BY COPS

    Delrish Moss: Out after dark

    “I was walking up Seventh Avenue, just shy of 14th street. I was about 17 and going home from my job. I worked at Biscayne Federal Bank after school. The bank had a kitchen, and I washed the dishes. A police officer gets out of his car. He didn’t say anything. He came up and pushed me against a wall, frisked me, then asked what I was doing walking over here after dark. Then he got into his car and left. I never got a chance to respond. I remember standing there feeling like my dignity had been taken with no explanation. I would have felt better about that incident had I gotten some sort of dialogue. I had not had any encounters with police.

  • STOPPED BY COPS

    Bill Diggs: Hurt officer’s feelings

    “I’m the first generation in my family to go to college, and if I wanted to do nothing else, I wanted to make my mom happy. I was living for my parents, I wanted to be that guy, I wanted to go to work and not have to put on steel-toe boots. And here I am in Atlanta, I have finally grown to a particular level of affluence. I wasn’t making a lot of money, but I was a college kid, wearing a suit, driving a nice BMW going to work everyday. Can’t beat that. I would leave my house, drive up Highway 78, the Stone Mountain area, grab some coffee, go to work. So on this particular morning, there’s a cop who’s rustling up this homeless guy outside the gas station where I was filling up. I’m shaking my head, the cop looks at me. This homeless guy is there every morning. I get in my car and on to the expressway. The police officer comes shooting up behind me. I doing 65, 70. He gets up behind me, I notice he’s following me. I get in one lane, he gets in the lane, I get in another lane, he gets in that lane. He finally flips his lights on, he comes up to the car. I’ve been pulled over for speeding before, I know the drill. Got my hands up here, don’t want to get shot, and I think he’s going to say what I’ve heard before: ‘License and registration, please.’ He says ‘Get out of the car!’ and he reaches in and grabs me by my shirt. He says, ‘So you’re a smart ass, huh?’ Finally he says, ‘License and registration.’ I tell him it’s in the car. He says, ‘Get it for me!’ He goes back to his car, comes back and asks, ‘So where did you get the car from?’ I say ‘It’s a friend of mine’s.” He says, ‘Is it stolen? What are you doing driving your friend’s car?’ I finally asked, ‘Is there a reason you stopped me? You followed me, what’s up, man?’ He says, ‘I’m going to let you go with a warning, but if you see me doing what I’ve got to do for my job, don’t you ever f---ing worry about it.”

Miami Herald

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