California Republicans Defend Fake Obamacare Site
The California Republican Assembly has come under attack this week for CoveringHealthCareCA.com, which critics claim is a "deceptive" website meant to dissuade Californians from signing up on the state health care exchange.
Though it launched in August, the site made waves this week after a number of GOP Assembly members sent out mailers to their constituents, highlighting the page as a "resource guide" for information on the Affordable Care Act.
Sabrina Demayo Lockhart, communications director for the Assembly GOP Caucus, told ABC News that the goal of the site was informational. "It's a complex law, and we wanted to make sure our constituents had the tools to understand what this law meant for them."
But many are equating the site, whose URL resembles the official California insurance exchange site ( CoveredCa.com), to the onslaught of fake insurance sites popping up in the state - 10 of which were shut down by Calif. Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris in November - since the implementation of Obamacare.
Critics say the GOP site only highlights the costs and penalties of the Affordable Care Act and ignores its potential benefits. Sections in question include an interactive calculator that totals the tax penalties Californians may incur if they don't register for insurance, as well as the "Young Adults" section, which states:
"The Affordable Care Act requires young adults to pay higher premiums for health insurance because the law prohibits insurers from denying coverage to sicker individuals because of pre-existing conditions and limits what they can charge to older or sicker policy holders. This will mean that young adults will pay higher premiums even though they are generally healthier and do not visit the doctor as often."
"It's outrageous that our elected officials in California are using taxpayer dollars to intentionally mislead their constituents and divert them from CoveredCA.com," said Dr. Paul Song, executive chairman of the progressive California-based group Courage Campaign, in a released statement. "Republicans in Sacramento have wasted taxpayer dollars building a fake website in an attempt to sow confusion and fear, in a futile attempt to discredit the law."
Following backlash the site was updated this week, the L.A Times reported, to include a direct link to the official Covered California website, as well as to the site's "Learn More" and "I don't have insurance" tab, a revision Lockhart told ABC News was made on feedback from site visitors.
Even with changes to the site, the GOP assembly was not dissuaded. Lockhart reiterated that the site was merely for information, adding that the criticism was "manufactured outrage on the Internet" and "an effort by the left as a distraction from the real problem of failed health care government implementation."
California's state health care exchange has been a leader in successful sign-ups, with higher enrollment figures than the federal Obamacare exchange. In the first two weeks of November, the state had already exceeded October figures significantly.
This post has been updated.