Dirty tricks: California GOP’ers set up fake health-exchange site

How low can you go? Ask Republican members of the California legislature. According to Crooks & Liars, Republican members of the California legislature have, for the past two weeks, been “sending out mailings on what appears to be the state’s dime to their constituents about health insurance. Only, they don’t direct those people to CoveredCA.com to sign up. Instead, they send them to their own astroturf version with the url CoveringHealthCareCA.com.”

On their version, there are links to negative articles and twisted messages intended to sour people on signing up for health insurance before they ever land at the official health exchange site.

For seniors, this message:

Seniors on Medicare may not see changes immediately to their benefits or coverage. Down the line, however, the erosion and accessibility of care may become a problem.

To pay for other components of the Affordable Care Act such as expanding Medicaid and creating state health exchanges, Medicare providers will see rate cuts nearing $200 billion over the next decade. These cuts could potentially result in the exodus of doctors from the Medicare system and force Medicare recipients to find new providers, possibly facing longer wait times for care as that pool of doctors shrinks.

Likewise, the tab for “young adults” says this:

Young adults will end up paying for much of federal health care reform by subsidizing the cost of sicker people, or by paying a tax penalty if they do not obtain health insurance under the provisions of the individual mandate, which requires all Californians to have coverage beginning in 2014.

If you click on the “Don’t have health insurance” tab on the front page, you’re taken to a page that puts all the focus on the penalty and none on the benefits. In fact, they have a “penalty calculator” on that page, rather than a premium calculator.

And of course, they also manage to twist what is actually available on the exchange:

Covered California: Covered California offers four qualified health plans similar to those available on the private market today. These plans comply with the Affordable Care Act.

Not so much, Assembly Republicans. There are four levels of coverage, but inside those levels, there are many, many plans available. So many it takes some time to figure out which one works the best.

What we have here are elected officials intentionally trying to make California’s health exchange fail, and using taxpayer dollars to misinform taxpayers, using the standard fear and loathing tactics as their linchpin. While I expect nothing less from Republicans in general, it does gall me that they’re using “official mailings” to misdirect constituents and Assembly resources to register and build the website.

Just more proof Republicans don’t give a damn about anything but their own bad selves.

We’re not talking about the scam sites that have popped up since the October 1 launch of healthcare.gov. Those sites, which look like healthcare.gov, have been created by scammers trying to obtain personal information from unsuspecting people thinking they’re at the government site. The California Attorney General has already ordered dozens of these completely phony sites taken down.  Elsewhere, as many as 700 of these phony cyber-squatter sites–whose only purpose is to glean information for identity theft–have been identified. They’re bad, and the scammers should face legal penalties, but it’s even worse to see elected officials trying to bamboozle their constituents with this strategy of deception, deceit and dishonesty.