The feds have harnessed America’s public higher education system to push enrollment into the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, as its Oct. 1 launch nears.
Universities across the country have received a portion of the $67 million in health insurance marketplace “navigator grants,” given out to provide Americans face-to-face help with signing up for Obamacare’s new programs, according to a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services report.
At least eight universities have been give a share of $8.9 million to enroll people in Obamacare, with an apparent focus on the disabled, low-income families, minorities, the uninsured, students and other young people.
The University of Georgia received one of the highest grants of nearly $1.7 million.
According to the report, the university’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences plans to “place navigators in several offices outside the Atlanta metro region … (and) create awareness through community workshops, engage a network of existing partners to reach uninsured Georgia residents, and provide direct services to consumers seeking assistance.”
The grant received backlash from Georgia State House Representative Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine, who recently called for Gov. Nathan Deal to issue an executive order instructing the school to refuse the grant.
“The federal government wanted this policy; therefore, let them fund it and implement it on their own,” Spencer wrote in a letter to Deal. “The Affordable Care Act will collapse under its own bureaucratic weight and the state of Georgia must not get sucked into this policy vortex.”
The University of Arkansas was also on the list of recipients, with a grant of nearly $775,000 for its “Arkansas Navigator Coalition.” The coalition plans to reach out to areas of Arkansas with the highest level of uninsured.
University of Arkansas officials did not respond to repeated requests by The College Fix for comment.
The Department of Health and Human Services said in the spring that the navigators will not be required to have background checks, despite having access to data such as Social Security numbers, tax returns, addresses, employer information, income, and home addresses.
Navigators are required to take a 20-30 hour online course to learn about how the law works. However, John Fund of the National Review questions the effectiveness of the course in regards to the complexity of the 1,000 page law.
He said such a course is like “giving someone a first-aid course and then making him a med-school professor.”
Other recipients of the navigator grant listed in the report are:
Samford University (Alabama): $326,794
Arizona Board of Regents, University of Arizona: $190,268
University of South Florida: $4,213,696
University of Mississippi Medical Center: $831,986
North Dakota Center for Persons with Disabilities of Minot State University (ND) $414,000
Illinois College of Optometry: $504,016
University of South Florida will be among a large consortium of agencies in that state which will conduct “public education activities to raise awareness about the Marketplace” among other efforts, the report states.
The North Dakota push will target “people with mild disabilities, people with mental health disorders, farmers, young adults, Native Americans, small business persons, people who are unemployed and people who are drug or alcohol addicted,” the report stated.
Samford University will “reach a diverse community in the rural and metropolitan communities of Northern Alabama,” the report says.
Over in Mississippi, the medical center “will use funds to perform educate and assist patients in enrolling in Medicaid, CHIP, and the Marketplace in all 82 counties in Mississippi,” the report states.
Fix contributor Michael Cipriano is a student at American University.