DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – A hidden camera video produced by the conservative watchdog group Project Veritas has created a political firestorm.
It appears to show employees from the Urban League of Greater Dallas encouraging applicants for the federal government’s insurance exchanges to lie about their health habits and their income to get cheaper coverage.
As a result, Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn of Texas is demanding the navigator program that’s part of the Affordable Care Act be dismantled.
In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Cornyn said, “It is simply astounding that the Administration is urging the American people to give their social security numbers and sensitive personal information to people who have not been properly vetted. We also need to dismantle the navigators program before it unleashes a wave of fraud and corruption.”
A spokeswoman for Project Veritas tells me they’ll be releasing two more videos, one of them Thursday, that show six similar cases.
The Urban League is one of hundreds of organizations nationwide paid by the government to hire these employees, also known as “navigators”, to help people sign up for health insurance.
Dallas County Republican Party Chairman Wade Emmert says, “It’s unfortunate good organizations are going to get caught up with a few bad apples.”
Emmert says the video shows how flawed the Affordable Care Act is. “There’s no way for the federal government to certify someone’s income. We have to take people’s word for it, ask what their income is, whether or not they qualify for subsidies.”
As a result of the video, the Urban League of Greater Dallas has fired one employee and suspended three others.
In a statement, the Urban League says it “does not condone, nor would we ever sanction misleading the public or any individual who seeks our assistance about any issue, and particularly in this case, an issue as critical as healthcare.”
But the organization also criticized Project Veritas saying, “We will not sit idly or silently as agenda driven individuals operating under false pretenses attempt to undermine our efforts to serve those who need it most.”
In a statement Wednesday, Democratic Congressman Marc Veasey of Fort Worth says, “Though the Urban League of Greater Dallas is still investigating the full context of what occurred, I am pleased to learn of the immediate steps taken in response to the incident.”
John Ratcliffe, a former U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Texas, who’s now in private practice, says the employees could face criminal charges. “Were I still a federal prosecutor, I would open an investigation. The videotape shows what appears to be people are either agents of the government or de facto agents of the government that are telling people to make false statements to the government about their health, and other material factors.”
Follow Jack Fink on Twitter: @cbs11jack
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