By Dustin Hurst | Watchdog.org
At this point, the White House might just be trolling conservatives.
With Obamacare set to launch in less than three months and Republicans in Congress furiously searching for ways to stop the law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Thursday that three Planned Parenthood affiliates across the nation will play an integral role in helping people sign up for health coverage.
Take that, conservatives.
Planned Parenthood partners in three states – Montana, Iowa and New Hampshire – will receive money under the HHS navigator program.
The Montana-based Intermountain Planned Parenthood will receive $214,000, the Iowa-based Planned Parenthood of the Heartland gets $214,427 and the New Hampshire-based Planned Parenthood of Northern New England will pocket $145,461.
Calls to Planned Parenthood national, Montana and Iowa offices were not returned.
Beginning Oct. 1, millions of Americans will have the power to purchase health care through government-run exchanges – something like a medical version of Amazon.com. Through the sites, buyers will purchase generously subsidized private plans or sign up for Medicaid or Medicare.
Navigators will play a massive role in providing information to residents confused about the sweeping changes. The workers, after passing some sort of training course as mandated by HHS, will work one-on-one with the befuddled, the confused and the stupefied.
Those needing assistance from Planned Parenthood navigators will be able to schedule an in-clinic appointment, call a hotline or video chat with workers.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Thursday that the navigators will aid those Americans who prefer one-on-one interaction
“We know there’s a lot of work to be done, but we’ll be ready for whatever comes up,” she said.
Nationwide, the grants total more than $67 million which will flow to 105 organizations. Some recipients include colleges, universities and nonprofit entities.
Here are some award totals by state:
- Kansas: More than $900,000 for three groups, including the Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved.
- Wisconsin: Just more than $1 million will go to six groups.
- Florida: $7.8 million, including a $4.2 million grant to the Tampa-based the Florida Covering Kids & Families program.
- Texas: More than $10.8 million will flow to eight groups, including United Way of Metropolitan Tarrant County and the East Texas Behavioral HealthCare NetWork.
- Missouri: Nearly $1.8 million split between Primaris Healthcare Business Solutions and Missouri Alliance of Area Agencies on Aging.
- Illinois: More than $3 million in funding, including $600,000 for the Puerto Rican Cultural Center, Inc.
Some Republicans worry that the navigators won’t have sufficient oversight for the amount of private data they will handle each day. While HHS has said that navigators will be held liable for privacy breaches, 13 state attorneys general signed a letter to the feds Wednesday asking for further protections.
“Because these navigators will be granted substantial access to Americans’ personal information – including their Social Security numbers and tax information – I am deeply concerned about privacy and the security of this very sensitive personal information,” wrote Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
While the attorneys general stew about the potential privacy violations, U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., blasted the administration Thursday for giving funding to Planned Parenthood.
“What makes this announcement even worse is that, in addition to the already announced grant to Planned Parenthood in D.C, three state-based Planned Parenthood affiliates will receive a total of about $655,000 from the federal government, despite assurances from the President when the law was passed that Obamacare would not give federal funding to abortion providers,” Black said in a prepared statement.
Black said last week that she sees the navigators as “basically community organizers,” a deep insult among conservatives.
Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, also a Republican, wasn’t thrilled, either.
Guilty of fraud– no problem. Pres. Obama gives $655K to his buddies at Planned Parenthood. http://t.co/5LRIqJzr0Y
— Cong. Tim Huelskamp (@CongHuelskamp) August 15, 2013
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, a Democrat, seemed pretty content with the news.
The health insurance marketplaces are a key part of the ACA’s coverage expansion. Navigators will help Iowans learn about benefits & sign up
— Tom Harkin (@SenatorHarkin) August 15, 2013
This is hardly Planned Parenthood’s first trip to the government funding trough. The organization, a burr in the saddle of Republicans for years, received more than $542 million in government funding from 2011 to 2012, about 45 percent of its total revenue.
The District of Columbia announced late last week that Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington would receive $375,000 to assist in outreach efforts.
Contact Dustin Hurst at Dustin@Watchdog.org