by Arnold Ahlert
While many Americans remain focused on the ominous implications of ObamaCare with regard to health insurance or the faulty website, a far more serious issue remains under the radar. On Wednesday, two national election watchdog groups alleged that ObamaCare is really a massive voter registration vehicle masquerading as a healthcare bill. Gregg Phillips, the founder of the election integrity group Voters Trust takes it one step further. “I think [it] is the biggest voter registration fraud scheme in the history of the world,” he told Breitbart News.
Phillips, along with Catherine Engelbrecht of True The Vote, cited a report published by Demos, an organization founded by left-wing activist billionaire George Soros. “Building a Healthy Democracy: Registering 68 Million People to Vote Through Health Benefit Exchanges,” couches this effort in noble terms, contending that “the freedom to vote must be fiercely protected for all citizens, regardless of class or privilege.” Yet the report focuses on the problems encountered by lower-income Americans who register and vote in far lower percentages than those earning more than $100,000 per year. Report author Lisa J. Danetz notes that of the approximately 68 million individuals she envisions being registered by the law, most of them will be low-income individuals “who will eventually enroll in subsidized health care under the law.”
Democrats enjoy a huge political advantage with regard to low-income, largely uninsured Americans. A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll taken last summer reveals that uninsured Americans favored Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a margin of 62 to 27 percent. Among insured Americans, Obama’s edge was only eight points. Part of the political divide is explained by the fact that Hispanics and black Americans comprise half the nation’s uninsured citizens. Thus, any surge in voter registration facilitated by ObamaCare will undoubtedly favor Democrats.
The ability to use the healthcare bill to register voters comes courtesy of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), aka the “Motor Voter” law, passed in 1993. The NVRA requires programs offering public assistance benefits to offer individuals voter registration opportunities. The healthcare exchanges qualify in that regard, according to the administration.
What raises suspicions about the voter registration effort is the location of the question within the online form for ObamaCare registration. It appears on page 59 of the 61-page application, following numerous questions about an individual’s identity and healthcare qualifications. Critics contend the set-up may lead some people to conclude that registering to vote is required to receive healthcare insurance. Their argument is buttressed by introduction contained in the form. “This document (the “questionnaire”) represents each possible item that may need to be asked for successful eligibility determinations,” it states.
Last March, House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee chairman Charles Boustany Jr. (R-LA) sent a letter to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius contending her agency had overstepped its bounds. ”The draft documents wander into areas outside the department’s purview and links applications for health insurance subsidies to voter registration,” he wrote. “The position of the question could lead some to think voter registration is somehow tied to subsidy eligibility,” he added.
Boustany’s chief concerns revolved around what the HHS planned to do with the information it receives from each applicant, and whether ObamaCare “navigators,” many of whom are drawn from left-wing groups such as ACORN, Planned Parenthood, the National Urban League, United Labor Unions, Organizing For America (OFA) and the Virginia Poverty Law Center will steer their clients to the Democrat party.
Engelbrecht and Phillips share those concerns, believing the data collected by HHS will be used by those activist groups to conduct what amounts to a taxpayer subsidized, get-out-the-vote effort for the Democrat Party. Phillips further contends a similar effort was conducted during the early years of the Clinton administration. Engelbrecht agrees, noting that the Motor Voter law “was among the first bills signed by Bill Clinton.” Both believe ObamaCare is little more than a healthcare bill masquerading as a giant voter registration scheme.
“That’s why the exchanges seem now to be so ill-conceived; they weren’t meant to be the focus,” said Engelbrecht. ”The administration put their time and energy and effort into developing pipes into 50 states so that they could funnel through Medicaid enrollees and voter registrations. That’s what this is about. That’s the game. As part of that strategy, we’ll have millions of new voters by virtue of the new Medicaid patients that are flooding in.”
Medicaid patients are apparently the key. Phillips agrees they are coming into the healthcare system in huge numbers. “You’ve got every state all over the country seeing these cases,” he notes, further explaining that income verification is not required for submissions. Income verification for ObamaCare applicants was ostensibly the only concession won by the Republicans during the government shut down. But the Washington Post reveals the ultimate version of that concession was watered down to the point of meaninglessness when Obama signed off on the deal that re-opened the federal government.
Unfortunately, that may be the lesser of two evils. The healthcare bill specifies that when low-income enrollees enter an exchange and qualify for insurance subsidies, they are automatically registered to vote, especially if they qualify for the Medicaid part of the program. Like Rep. Boustany, Engelbrecht believes the automatic opt-in, which marks a change from the method employed by the Motor Voter law, is a ploy and that very few applicants would resist ”upsetting the apple cart” by opting out. “Most people will just do what they think the government wants them to do,” she contends. “What they want is free healthcare.”
And since the NVRA requires any agency registering people to vote to provide help to those people if they want it, the aforementioned leftist-dominated ObamaCare navigators can visit people’s homes to help them sign up for insurance and register to vote.
Automatic voter registration is a critical component of this effort. Unless applicants specify they would like to opt-out of voter registration, states will likely be inundated with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of computer-generated applications. As a result of this deluge, the approval standards for those applications will likely become far less stringent than they should be. Once a state approves an application, it automatically mails out a voter registration card. Whoever receives it can simply sign it, mail it back to authorities, and be registered to vote–absent any face-to-face interaction with any state official.
Yet the NVRA requires “Face to Face” Initial Applications. So how is the Obama administration getting around that requirement? According to Phillips, the administration is contending that a visit to the healthcare.gov website is tantamount to a physical appearance at a government office! Phillips notes the absurdity of such a contention. “The very idea that I get to open up my website and call that my office, does that mean al Qaeda on their 5,000 websites, that those are their offices? Of course not. It’s ridiculous,” he explains.
In other words, it would appear the rule of law is being kicked to the curb. As of now, the administration is getting away with it.
Their triumph might be short-lived. Conservative legal scholars argue that the exchanges operate as private insurance marketplaces. Thus, they don’t fall under the NVRA’s definition of social service providers, and shouldn’t be linked to voter registration. Furthermore, the exchanges differ from state to state, with some operating as nonprofits, while other emanate from a state’s health or human services agency. And in most states the federal government runs the exchanges. ”It’s going to depend on how much it looks like traditional public assistance,” said Daniel Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University. “It’s quite likely that it will play out in court, and quite frankly it should.”
Until it does, the administration is moving forward, and voter rights activists will continue to insist this is not a partisan-based effort. ”Those new voters could be up for grabs by all parties,” said Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU’s Washington legislative office. “I think it’s very unreasonable to assume someone voting for the first time is necessarily going to be voting one way or the other.”
Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh argues otherwise. “Remember when we first learned who was getting money to set up exchanges in California?” Limbaugh asked his listeners. “The SEIU covered California; it was a bunch of left-wing activists. And the NAACP. And from that universe of people, the navigators are hired. What do you think is really going on? Voter registration. In addition to you going to get your healthcare, there is obviously massive Democrat voter registration going on at these exchanges.”
Who’s right? Americans should ask themselves if the Obama administration would be gung-ho about registering low-income voters using navigators for whom there are no federal background checks, if they thought there was even the remotest chance that “new voters could be up for grabs by all parties.”
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