Republicans in the California State Assembly are directing voters to a website purporting to be a "resource guide" for the state's new health care exchange. However, the GOP-backed guide to "helping you navigate federal health care changes" paints the Affordable Care Act in a largely negative light.
The site, Coveringhealthcareca.com, features different sections for insured individuals, uninsured individuals and employers, as well as for seniors and young adults. Each section offers details on what the new law means for each group. However, those details are often drawn from Republican talking points on the law's drawbacks.
For instance, the "Seniors" section warns that "the erosion and accessibility of care may become a problem" for Medicare beneficiaries:
And under "Young Adults", the site warns that younger Americans will "end up paying for much of federal health care reform by subsidizing the cost of sicker people":
The website was unveiled by the California Assembly GOP caucus in August.
"Hard-working Californians have serious questions about how the new federal health care mandate will affect them and they are looking to lawmakers for answers," Assembly Republican Leader Connie Conway said at the time. "Our new website will give Californians the answers they are seeking and help them navigate through the confusing bureaucracy of the new federal health care law with ease."
However, as the liberal website Crooks and Liars noted Monday, at least one Republican assembly member is sending out mailers that appear to tout the "resource guide" as the official state exchange website. The pamphlet includes a section titled "What You Need to Do to Follow the Law," which advises voters to visit the GOP-backed site. While the section mentions that individuals need to buy insurance through Covered California, it does not provide a URL address for the exchange.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Coveringhealthcareca.com, a URL that bears resemblance to the official exchange website, Coveredca.com, added more prominent links to the actual state exchange after news reports popped up about the site on Monday.
The website also contains a disclaimer in a small link at the bottom of the homepage.
"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," reads the disclaimer. "Such materials have been compiled from a variety of sources, and are subject to change without notice from the California State Assembly."
Earlier this year, the state was plagued by Covered California impostors attempting to sign individuals up for private insurance plans by imitating the state health care exchange's websites. California Attorney General Kamala Harris ordered the sites to cease operation.
UPDATE: 5:52 p.m. ET-- Rep. Janice Hahn (D-Calif.) condemned the Republican legislators for the website in a Tuesday statement.
“I am appalled by the so-called civil servants who have stooped to confusing and misleading Californians who are trying to get health insurance," she said. "The unhelpful website seems to be little more than an attempt by Affordable Care Act opponents to undermine the law’s success and prevent people who need health coverage from getting it. I urge all Californians looking for affordable health care to visit CoveredCA.com and be on the lookout for fake sites."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article referred to Janice Hahn as a state representative.