October 11, 2013

I'm not sure how Anne Packham was "certified" to be a health care navigator in Florida, but somehow Florida local TV station WKMG found her to interview about why credit scores are part of Florida's application process. In this interview and also in one published in the Orlando Sentinel on Wednesday, she mentions credit scores as part of the application process. Note her response here and also in the video above:

Q. I recently moved from California to Florida. All my financial data are based on when I lived in California, but I am now a Florida resident. Will the recent move impact the verification and enrollment process?

A. Florida is using the federal marketplace, so your financial information will follow you. It's based on your federal tax returns from last year and your credit history, regardless of where you live.

Raw Story:

At the end of his story about the HealthCare.gov website being overloaded during the first week, reporter Louis Bolden warned his audience that there were other reasons to be concerned about the law.

“I understand that one of the concerns is actually about credit scores, people are being asked to show their credit score when signing up,” the anchor pointed out.

“That’s right, Lisa, it is asking you to show your credit score — it is required,” Bolden said. “And we were told if you have a low credit score, it could effect what you pay for premiums.”

In a follow up report, the reporter provided more details: “It’s like buying a house or a car. Your credit score and other factors can determine your interest rate. In this case, it can determine how much you pay in premiums.”

That is utterly false, though it makes nice fodder for a new right-wing lie about the exchanges. There are only a few factors that have an impact on health insurance rates under the ACA: age, location and tobacco use. Period.

During the signup process, there are crosschecks of tax and other information. Experian is checked to verify residence and employment, but reported credit score has absolutely no impact on rates. None. Zero.

Ultimately, the TV stationretracted the story:

After receiving numerous emails about the story, Local 6 contacted Packham on Wednesday, and she said her statement was incorrect, adding that users do not need their credit scores to apply for the Affordable Care Act.

Local 6 is investigating how the person in charge of providing information about the Affordable Care Act could make such an error.

I'd like the answer to that question, too. It's no secret that Florida is making it as difficult as possible for people to sign up for coverage. They've given insurers a two-year pass on having to be transparent about how they calculate rates, Rick Scott has decreed that no navigator can use state health facilities to sign people up, and the Medicaid expansion was not adopted by Florida's tea party overlords. Packham's demeanor in the television interview is quite earnest, giving one the impression that she thought she knew exactly what she was talking about.

As one might expect, conservative echo chambers are all abuzz with this new "Obamacare nightmare". Free Republic, HotAir, The Weekly Standard, and the Washington Free Beacon already have stories up about it. I fully expect it to hit Fox News tonight during Hannity or Megyn Kelly's show, and from there it will take off all over social media and everywhere else, despite the fact that it's not true.

It's almost like Packham's statements were crafted to toss toxicity and misinformation into the process intentionally. I'm sure no one would do something like that, though. Right?

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