Following our post on California Republicans' misleading health insurance website, numerous readers reached out to us with examples of how the Assembly Republican Caucus, which created the thing, has been marketing it.
As we reported, the GOP website, coveringhealthcareca.com, looks like an effort to steer citizens away from coveredca.com, which is the legitimate enrollment site for California's individual insurance exchange. (Kudos to the sites crooksandliars.com and dailykos.com, which glommed on to the GOP stunt on Monday even before we did.)
As we reported, the GOP site was launched during the summer, but Republican legislators appear to have stepped up their promotion of the site in recent weeks. A good example is this mailing from Assemblyman Jeff Gorell (R-Camarillo), which has been landing in constituents' mailboxes over the last week or so. Like the website, the mailing purports to be a "resource guide" for Californians. It's not: It's merely a promotion for the website.
The best resource for Californians seeking information about the Affordable Care Act and how it affects them is coveredca.com. But that link appears nowhere in Gorell's mailing, and the exchange itself is mentioned only once, referred to as a "marketplace called Covered California." Gorell's staff didn't respond to our calls for comment.
The GOP website itself downplayed links to the state exchange, until we raised questions directly with spokespersons for the Assembly Republican Caucus. Two hours later, the caucus revised the site with a couple more links to coveredca.com.
This falls into the category of exploiting your constituents' confusion for your own political ends. Yes, Californians need more information about the new federal regulations and mandates, which could affect them especially if they don't have access to coverage from their employer. Is a mailing that does absolutely nothing to help them "navigate the new federal requirements," as Gorell's claims to do, the answer? Plainly no. It's bound to leave people in more confusion than they started with.
It's proper to observe that neither the website nor Gorell's mailing discusses in any accessible way the conditions that led to the Affordable Care Act -- insurance companies turning away customers with medical conditions, raising premiums for those who got sick, imposing lifetime and annual caps on benefits, spending freely on their own overhead, and marketing overpriced "junk" insurance plans to unwary buyers. The Affordable Care Act makes all those abuses illegal.
Instead, the GOP's "resources" stress the penalties faced by individuals who don't get insurance and misrepresent the budgetary impact of the law -- it's expected to lower the federal deficit, not raise it as the California GOP claims.
There's only one course for the Assembly Republicans to take, if they're not going to have a reputation for lying and misrepresentation hung around their necks. They need to take their website down and disavow it. The right time for them to do so is now.