Republican members of the California State Assembly want to inform their constituents about Obamacare, so they've helpfully sent out mailers pointing people to CoveringHealthCareCA.com. Which isn't the state's Obamacare site. Instead, it's an official-looking site hoping to "help you navigate" the health care changes — with an obviously unfavorable perspective.
The liberal site Crooks and Liars spotted the effort on Monday. It's not clear how many people received a mailer from their Republican assemblymember, but the site did obtain one example, sent by Assemblyman Scott Walk in the southern part of the state. The cover (pictured) calls the mailer a "resource guide," and prominently features the link to the website. Inside, the mailer is more direct. A frustrated-looking woman appears just above commentary about tax increases. A page of instructions ("What You Need to Do to Follow the Law") highlights the Republicans' site, while mentioning the real exchange site "Covered California" without providing a URL.
When you get to CoveringHealthCareCA.com, three options are prominently displayed, for those with insurance, those without, and employers. At the side is a small logo leading to the actual exchange website.
- If you already have insurance, you're told that there are "No Guarantees" — "This does not mean you are guaranteed the same employer insurance coverage you had before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act."
- If you're a senior on Medicare: "These cuts could potentially result in the exodus of doctors from the Medicare system and force Medicare recipients to find new providers, possibly facing longer wait times for care as that pool of doctors shrinks."
- For young people: "Young adults will end up paying for much of federal health care reform by subsidizing the cost of sicker people, or by paying a tax penalty if they do not obtain health insurance under the provisions of the individual mandate."
If you don't have insurance, the site helpfully allows you to calculate the penalty you'd pay if you chose to forego signing up — a strategy used by other groups to try and keep enrollment numbers low.
We've noted past attempts by fraudsters creating fake Obamacare sites meant to trick people into turning over personal financial information. Here, the deception has a different aim: turning Californians against the program, even as the state continues to have one of the most successful exchanges in the nation.
The site does have a disclaimer. "The California State Assembly does not warrant or make any representations as to the quality, content, accuracy, or completeness of the information, text, graphics, links and other items contained on this server or any other server." That link is even less prominent than the one for the real Obamacare exchange. It also includes on its "Resources" page information about preventing identity theft, perhaps recognizing that those coming to the site might be unusually susceptible.