Well, the navigator program got its windfall this week — to the tune of $67 million.
(Which sounds like a lot to you and me, but if you break it down over the 33 states where the feds are running things, you’re looking at an average of barely more than a couple million per state. This had budget overruns written all over it. But that’s another blog…)
But a closer look reveals the potential devil in the details, and sticking points for ideologues on both the left and the right.
For starters, I couldn’t help but notice an awful lot of what I guess we call faith-based organizations on the navigator list, with a few Catholic groups poised to do a lot of navigating. Now, I support the Church as much as the next Catholic, but that always raises the church-state question in my mind. Especially in light of all the bickering between faiths of all kinds and the feds over the birth control question. I can smell a lawsuit over women’s health issues here a mile away. In fact, I can’t believe the ACLU hasn’t filed something already.
Speaking of which, Planned Parenthood is on the list, as well, which should fire up the right.
“Three Planned Parenthood branches in Iowa, Montana and New Hampshire received a combined $655,000 to serve as navigators,” according to Politico. Now you can’t tell me, when we’ve got red states left and right working overtime to defund Planned Parenthood already (not to mention that little dust-up in Texas earlier this summer), that this won’t bring out the torches and pitchforks on the right.
Meanwhile, nearly 20 states have already thrown up extra requirements for navigators to be allowed to operate within their borders, which (again) begs a lawsuit (or 10) from either the feds or the navigators themselves.
I guess my point here is that the legal wrangling — and related expenses and delays — over PPACA implementation is far from over. And the deadline — unlike nearly every other aspect of the law — hasn’t budged. We’re now, what six weeks and counting from open enrollment?
Which also brings me back to all those states happy to have the feds come in and run things for them. I understand the principle of fighting the law with all of these idealogical votes to abstain, but doesn’t it just make life harder for the brokers operating in those states? Wouldn’t it better serve the state — and by extension the broker community — to have them managed at the state level, where the navigators could be circumvented altogether.
Now I’m wondering if I can be a navigator? I’ll just start a nonprofit — let’s call it Storey’s Compass Rose — and apply for some of that federal grant money. I’ll navigate some uninsureds like you wouldn’t believe…
Aw, who am I kidding? I’d never make it through the background check.
Anyway, I understand yesterday was my “poll blog,” but I couldn’t pass up this latest number. According to a survey of federal workers by FedSmith.com, less than 3 percent of them want to be a part of Obamacare. Ouch. Hardly a ringing endorsement, but I’m betting what they have now — the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program — is a damn sight better than the average Joe’s. Wonder if they’ll get to keep their doctor?