Dallas-Area Obamacare Navigators Caught on Undercover Video Encouraging Fraud
As President Barack Obama waspraising Obamacare volunteers at Dallas' Temple Emanu-El last week
, conservative activist James O'Keefe was plotting a visit of his own.
O'Keefe, whose video stings have successfully taken down the community group ACORN and an NPR executive, had members of his Project Veritas team visit local Obamacare navigators to sign up for health insurance.
The resulting video, a 10-minute clip introduced with a bizarre montage of O'Keefe decked out in cowboy gear ordering a cranberry juice at an old West saloon, has been greeted as another triumph for O'Keefe for exposing Obamacare navigators encouraging fraud.
And the footage does show that. At the National Urban League of Greater Dallas' Lancaster Road headquarters, a worker warns the undercover activist not to report the cash he makes working odd jobs on the side, since he didn't report it in his tax filings. At the organization's community center in Irving, a couple of others say he shouldn't disclose his smoking habit.
"You lie because your premiums will be higher," she says. "I always lie on mine."
The Dallas Morning News reported Tuesday evening that the Urban League of Greater Dallas has taken "immediate steps" in response to the video, including the suspension of three navigators-in-training and the termination of a woman recently hired to be a receptionist. The organization received less than four percent of the $10.9 million in federal grants distributed to insurance navigators in Texas.
That's done little to assure Republicans like Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who called for the end of the navigator program, or Attorney General Greg Abbott, whose response boils down to "I told you so."
The knee-jerk liberal response to O'Keefe's videos -- that he is a sleazeball who selectively edits his footage to make it appear more damning than it is -- does little to justify the actions of the navigators. But these cases are anecdotal and point less to another systemic failure of Obamacare than to the fact that some level of fraud is inevitable in any large operation. The best thing to do is foot it out and move on.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.
- Can You Believe Somebody Is Trying to Solve Mentally Ill Homelessness?
Fri., Dec. 4, 8:00pm
Sat., Dec. 5, 12:00am
Sat., Dec. 5, 12:30pm
Sat., Dec. 5, 5:00pm
- 5 Things You Should Know About Dallas' Pension Crisis
- City Plan Commissioner Abtahi Kept Off Virgin America Flight Home