When the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) website began having problems upon its rollout, you just had to know Republicans would force some kind of hearings. After all, they’ve built their defense against “Obamacare” almost entirely on lies since its inception, and now they finally had something factual to use against the healthcare law.
During these hearings earlier today, Texas Republican Representative Joe Barton began to try to perpetuate the idea that the Marketplace website wasn’t compliant with HIPAA standards.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is what regulates privacy concerns in the health care industry.
Well, as someone who’s signed up for health insurance through the Marketplace, I can attest that at no time does the website ask for any personal health information. It will ask about your identity, some income questions, residency information and a few other questions that just get your account set up and ready to choose your insurance plan. There aren’t any questions during the process about your personal health information for one very simple fact—pre-existing conditions no longer matter. Therefore, those types of questions no longer need to be asked. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out.
This is a fact Representative Barton is well aware of, and if he’s not, then he has no business questioning anyone about the healthcare law.
But even knowing these facts, it didn’t stop Mr. Barton from using these hearings as yet another platform for right-wing fear mongering against the Affordable Care Act.
Upon listening to this propaganda by Rep. Barton, New Jersey Representative Frank Pallone Jr. had apparently had enough. He unleashed on his Republican counterpart, which prompted a fairly heated back and forth between the two representatives:
Pallone: “I started out in my opening statement saying there was no legitimacy to this hearing, and the last line of the questioning certainly confirms that. HIPAA only applies when there’s health information being provided. That’s not in play here today. No health information is required in the application process. And why is that? Because pre-existing conditions don’t matter. So once again, here we have my Republican colleagues trying to scare everybody…”
Barton: “Will the gentleman yield?”
Pallone: “No, I will not yield to this monkey court or whatever this thing is.”
Barton: “This is not a monkey court. Protecting American citizens is a legitimate concern of this committee.”
Pallone: “There is no health information in the process. You’re asked about your address, your date of birth. You are not asked health information. So why are we going down this path? Because you are trying to scare people so they don’t apply, and so therefore the legislation gets delayed, or the Affordable Care Act gets defunded, or it’s repealed. That’s all it is, hoping people won’t apply.”
And Pallone is exactly right. There’s absolutely no health information requested during the process of signing up in the Marketplace. Anyone who’s trying to perpetuate the myth that there is, is obviously trying to stir up fear based on blatant lies.
Then again, that’s been the entire Republican campaign against “Obamacare.” It’s been one blatant lie after another and it appears they’re going to use these hearings as another stage to try to fear monger even further.
I just hope there are more members of Congress like Rep. Pallone who are willing to call these lies out as they’re happening.