Saturday, April 06, 2013

Obamacare Bureaucrat Gets Things Backwards

Folks who work for the government have a talent for getting things backwards. Such is the case with Robert Ross, a board member of the new state agency responsible for implementing the three-year-old federal healthcare law—aka Obamacare.

It seems that this agency, Covered California, needs 20,000 temporary workers to enroll millions of residents in the state’s health insurance exchange. Plans currently call for workers to receive $58 for each application completed.

One might think Americans would rush to put themselves into this historically wonderful program—without assistance from paid recruiters. But such retrograde thoughts only occur to folks who find it disturbing that the government uses ad campaigns to recruit food stamp recipients.

Mr. Ross’ backwards mentality, however, doesn’t involve the sign-up program itself. It rather concerns the fact that these temporary workers will have access to highly sensitive consumer materials—Social Security numbers, birth dates, income and tax information.

Right-thinking persons would want to make darn sure that anyone with access to such data would be fingerprinted and undergo a thorough background check. Mr. Ross, however, works in the government. His primary concern is for the burden a careful background check might impose on the cohort of workers he envisions collecting this fraud-inviting personal and financial information.

Ross prefaces his true agenda with a comment about “bureaucratic mountains that slow us down.” That’s rich, coming from a board member of a new state bureaucracy.

The real problem Ross has with extensive background checks is revealed in this remark: “There are people who have turned their lives around and who are trusted by the most difficult-to-reach populations. Not having their talent and expertise could be a problem.”

Translation: Many of the workers Ross would like to employ have criminal records that would disqualify them from being hired. He thinks it’s more important to employ individuals with dubious backgrounds to get as many people as possible into this program than it is to safeguard Californians from fraud.

For most Americans this Batman-goofy rehabilitation mentality went out with the skyrocketing crime rates it spawned in the seventies. Ross, however, works for the government and shares the same perspective as the non-profit official who insisted that “background checks would create barriers for a lot of communities of color… We need a massive amount of people to help with outreach.”

By the way, “community groups” (think ACORN) and non-profits like the one represented by the quote above (Greenlining Institute), will be charged with hiring sign-up workers.

It isn’t trivial that the latter government-minded officer spoke of human beings as “amounts”—i.e. as volumes, not as fraud-susceptible “individuals.”

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