If you want to visit the online home of California’s health insurance exchange, you go to coveredca.com. But if you instead want simply to read information about the Affordable Care Act put together by state Republicans, you can go to coveringhealthcareca.com.
The California Assembly Republican Caucus has for months maintained a website billing itself as a “resource guide” to health care reform. And while parts of the website play it relatively straight (and the website itself links to the exchange’s website), other parts focus on perceived negative effects of the law. And the neutral-looking website links to information from partisan and ideological organizations, like the National Republican Campaign Committee, The Heartland Institute and The Heritage Foundation.
Registered in July, the website was mentioned by the Caucus’ official Twitter account as early as September. (On Sept. 25, the account tweeted: “As #ACA rolls out beginning Oct 1, consumers need to be wary of fraud. Educate yourself at http://CoveringHealthcareCA.com.”) Several liberal websites took notice of website this week. Crooks & Liars highlighted the following passage, from the section of the website concerning seniors:
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.
According to Crooks & Liars, California residents have been receiving mailers urging them to visit the Caucus’ website “[f]or more information regarding your particular situation.” (The website uploaded a copy of the mailer here.)
Coveringhealthcareca.com’s “Learn More” section may be the most telling. At the top of the page, visitors see links to the websites of Covered California, the Kaiser Family Foundation, the California Attorney General, and the National Republican Congressional Committee — the group whose job is to keep and increase the Republican majority in the House. Further down the page, some links take readers to national news outlets, like The Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press, but others lead to the websites of partisan organizations like The Heritage Foundation, The Heartland Institute, and The Galen Institute. The section headings on the page gives a flavor of the focus: “Rising Cost of Health Care,” “Privacy,” “Rate Hikes,” “Impact on the Economy,” “Bureaucracy,” “IRS Penalty.”
Last month, TPM reported how conservatives had set up two websites discouraging Alaskans from buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Those websites apparently were created independently from the state’s Republican party.