Local Politics

Ellmers defends oversight of groups helping implement health law

Posted September 9, 2013
Updated September 10, 2013

Rep. Renee Ellmers represents North Carolina's 2nd Congressional district.

— Second District Congresswoman Renee Ellmers is catching heat over a House committee investigation into "navigator" organizations tasked with helping people sign up for health care coverage in a new online marketplace created by the Affordable Care Act, which opens Oct. 1.

Ellmers and others on the Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to the organizations, which receive federal grant money, asking them to produce detailed documentation of how the grants will be spent.

"This investigation is consistent with our thoughtful oversight of this law," Ellmers said Monday. "It is our job to protect taxpayer dollars."

Several state and national groups have charged that the request is a blatant attempt to intimidate navigator groups out of helping people understand the new health care provisions.

Nonprofit Protect Your Care NC had harsh words for Ellmers, calling her moves "brazen and disgusting."

"If Congresswoman Ellmers thinks groups like the Epilepsy Foundation or the Children’s Hospital Medical Center are deserving of the highest levels of scrutiny, she’s out of her mind," said Candice Davies, state director of Protect Your Care NC. "What kind of politician would harass and intimidate a food bank for trying to help people who are seeking out health coverage? The answer is a politician that has lost all sense of what it is to be a public servant, a politician so bent on keeping people uninsured that they don’t care if innocent people get hurt in the process."

Some groups also say turning over thousands of documents to comply with the committee's request would overwhelm the resources of the nonprofit navigators.

Ellmers, however, maintains that the navigator program is already $13 million over budget. She said the House committee is also concerned about ensuring that people's personal medical information collected by the groups is protected.

"I was proud to join my colleagues on the Energy and Commerce Committee in a letter requesting information regarding the Department of Health and Human Services' announcement that 105 groups will split $67 million in taxpayer funds to help people 'navigate' the new Obamacare health insurance exchanges," Ellmers said in a statement. "This letter was sent to recipients of these grants requesting basic information about how they will spend taxpayer money. The purpose of this request is to better understand the work these recipients will perform as 'Navigators' and the consumer protections that will be in place, as the navigators will be obtaining sensitive medical and financial information from enrollees.

"The groups should already have the information we are requesting. I am concerned however when I see reports, such as the Kaiser story last week, that quotes an Ohio group saying that 'We weren't required to provide position papers, salary ranges, privacy policies or procedures. You don’t do that until you know that you got the award,'" Ellmers continued. "This is startling. I would also point out that this is a program that is already $13 million (25 percent) over budget, before its even been implemented. This investigation is consistent with our thoughtful oversight of this law. It is our job to protect taxpayer dollars and Americans’ sensitive personal medical information, particularly as this massive law is implemented and new programs, like this one, are being created."

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  • BGJ Sep 11, 12:40 p.m.

    She has ignored the expressed wishes of what, 70% of the public who do not like and do not want Obamacare-period - josephlawrence43

    Except, it's not. It's more like 40/40 approve/disapprove and many of the folks disapproving don't think it goes far enough.

    Ellmers has an experience based level of knowledge about what Obamacare is going to do to this nation - josephlawrence43

    Then Ellmers wants larger deficits because that's exactly what the CBO told Rep. Ryan in a letter to him on Jul 30, 2013 would happen if it was repealed.

    Beside the point, though. I would no more ask a doctor about health insurance than I would the paper boy about journalism.

  • goldenosprey Sep 11, 11:33 a.m.

    "Pray tell of what value has Senator Hagan been to the people of this State? - josephlawrence43

    That is easy to view. She has supported and sponsored or co sponsored a number of bills to improve or protect access to student loans, education and literacy (not exactly good things for republicans)and the textile industry. Also she has steered some pork to NC to help create jobs the repubs in Raleigh would love to take credit for. Any Senator is limited in what can be accomplished because the House only sends garbage. As long as Sen. Hagan's body temperature remains in the high 90s she is accomplishing as much as Sen. Burr.

    One thing she didn't accomplish was trying to name a federal building after one of the most shameful and divisive politicians in NC history.

    Also she didn't try and block consumers from knowing their health care options.

    My dad was a Navy Corpsman. Maybe I should rely on him for information on how the ACA will affect us.

  • josephlawrence43 Sep 11, 11:26 a.m.

    For one, she hasn't intentionally delayed implementation of the law.
    o, by your logic, anyone with a medical background has a better understanding of this law than say an actuary? Should I ask my local EMT-B for their opinion on ACA? BGJ::
    Hagan?
    She has ignored the expressed wishes of what, 70% of the public who do not like and do not want Obamacare-period. Voting in lockstep with Reid,Obama, et.al is something to be proud of ???
    And, yes I would take the informed opinion of someone actually involved in the medical field over an "actuary" simply because as a Nurse married to a Doctor, Ellmers has an experience based level of knowledge about what Obamacare is going to do to this nation.
    And yes, you could question an EMT, and probably get a clearer understanding of the pending consequences of Obama care for this nation.

  • BGJ Sep 11, 10:48 a.m.

    For those opposed to Rep. Ellmers, a question. - josephlawrence43

    Not opposed to her,rather I'm opposed to redundancy in requests with little real purpose. Why are you for such things?

    Pray tell of what value has Senator Hagan been to the people of this State? - josephlawrence43

    For one, she hasn't intentionally delayed implementation of the law.

    At least as a Nurse, married to a Doctor, Ellmers has a first hand understanding of just what Obamacare is and what it will do to the people of this nation.

    So, by your logic, anyone with a medical background has a better understanding of this law than say an actuary? Should I ask my local EMT-B for their opinion on ACA?

  • josephlawrence43 Sep 11, 9:11 a.m.

    For those opposed to Rep. Ellmers, a question. Pray tell of what value has Senator Hagan been to the people of this State? What has she accomplished aside from serving coffee and doughnuts in her Senate office?? At least as a Nurse, married to a Doctor, Ellmers has a first hand understanding of just what Obamacare is and what it will do to the people of this nation.

  • BGJ Sep 10, 5:34 p.m.

    The 'navigators' are PAID with your tax dollars. No reason there shouldn't be some oversight here - woodchipper

    Yes, as in the original grant application which the esteemed representative can easily find herself. Except, she doesn't just want to look at the original grant application; she wants someone to give her the same information again in a new format. Yes, she wants duplicative information. No reason there shouldn't be some oversight on her oversight because redundancy is good apparently.

  • junkmail5 Sep 10, 3:58 p.m.

    lowering everyones state sales tax is a burden on the poor.
    arfamr1008

    Uh... what?

    Sales tax wasn't lowered at all. But it WAS applied to MORE things.

    Which is, very clearly, a tax increase on the poor.

    In fact, the overall tax reform will increase taxes on the bottom -80- percent of income earners by some estimates.

    It'll be a huge tax cut for the very rich though.... awesome for me and the other small number of us in the state... until you realize we need folks who make us rich to actually have enough money to buy stuff.

  • junkmail5 Sep 10, 3:35 p.m.

    Is She covered under this Plan. Probably Not. Another Liberal Plan, Force it on The People, But don't include Me.
    bmac813

    what?

    are you still lying to people by telling them congress is exempt from obamacare?

    Why do you keep doing that when I've corrected you 5 times now.

    Not only are they NOT exempt, they are explicitly REQUIRED to use it.

  • goldenosprey Sep 10, 3:13 p.m.

    Rep. Ellmers is a tool of the astroturf Pope/Koch/ALEC corporatocracy. She takes her orders from them and not the citizens who have been fed a steady diet of lies and mirepresentations from those with a vested interest in the unsustainable status quo. NC lost a lot when the dark forces of reaction targeted Etheridge's seat. How else could personal responsibility somehow turn into a bad thing for conservatives?

  • arfamr1008 Sep 10, 3:12 p.m.

    only liberals could turn oversite of taxpayer dollars into a bad thing. very similar to the naacp saying that somehow a voter id law is racist and that lowering everyones state sales tax is a burden on the poor.

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