SACRAMENTO -- A website run by California Assembly Republicans has come under fire this week, with critics alleging it misleads visitors about the Affordable Care Act and one Democratic congresswoman calling for it to be taken down.
The Assembly GOP Caucus says the website, coveringhealthcareca.com, is meant to be a resource for Californians looking for more information on the new healthcare law and insurance exchange.
But Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik noted on Monday, the site mostly featured negative stories on Obamacare and a calculator of penalties that a person would pay for not buying insurance. He noted the site's URL was similar to the official site of the exchange -- coveredca.com -- which could confuse consumers.
"Constituents needing useful information about how to deal with the Affordable Care Act would be well advised to look elsewhere," Hiltzik wrote.
The criticism over the "fake" Obamacare website has now gone national, and on Tuesday Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) jumped into the fray, calling for the site to be taken down.
Hahn said she was "appalled by the so-called civil servants who have stooped to confusing and misleading Californians who are trying to get health insurance."
"The unhelpful website seems to be little more than an attempt by Affordable Care Act opponents to undermine the law’s success and prevent people who need health coverage from getting it," she said in a statement. "I urge all Californians looking for affordable healthcare to visit coveredca.com and be on the lookout for fake sites."
The Assembly GOP Caucus stands by the site, said spokeswoman Sabrina Lockhart.
"We launched this website in August," she said. "It is simply an informational resource to answer people's question about the healthcare law."
They have made some tweaks this week in light of the criticism. On the homepage, there's now a prominent Covered California logo, with a link to the official site. Elsewhere on the GOP site, links to the exchange are now easier to find.
All the attention has provided one upshot for the Assembly Republicans: web traffic to their site this week has increased tenfold over last week, Lockhart said.