Congress brings Obamacare hearing to North Texas

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on December 16, 2013 at 9:14 PM

RICHARDSON — Six members of the US House of Representatives met in Richardson Monday for a hearing after fallout from undercover videos that showed a health care navigator encouraging an applicant to lie.

With five Republicans and one Democrat at the Eisemann Center, it was a heavily partisan hearing.  The hardball questions went to the federal administrator overseeing the regional rollout of the Affordable Care Act.

"I’m in the trust but verify business and the trust has not been verified,” said Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican chairman from California.

Issa said he's concerned about a lack of background checks for navigators who may handle applicants' personal information. He pointed his questions to Dr. Randy Farris, the regional administrator with the Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services.

When Issa asked Farris whether he had pictures or fingerprints of the navigators, his answer was no to both.

"Do you have Xerox copies of their driver's licenses?" Issa asked.

"I would have to check on that," Farris responded.

Dr. Michael Burgess, a Republican from Lewisville, expressed his disappointment with the preparedness as well.

"The department HHS has had three-and-a-half years — longer than three-and-a-half years — billions of dollars and to be no further along than we are today on December 16 is truly discouraging to me," he said.

Mark Veasey, who covers parts of Dallas and Fort Worth, was the lone Democrat on the dais. He wanted to focus different on a different topic.

"I hope that we can talk about a much more significant problem and that is why our governor, Rick Perry, is refusing to expand the state's Medicaid program,” Veasey said.

The committee began its hearing by showing an undercover clip from Fox News featuring Texas navigators. The committee also called insurance experts in an attempt to show that the training and oversight navigators receive is less then Texas insurance agents. The government insists the training is sufficient.

Email dschechter@wfaa.com

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