Obamavote: Health care application registers voters too

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets

The 61-page online Obamacare draft application for health care includes asking if the applicant wants to register to vote, raising the specter that pro-Obama groups being tapped to help Americans sign up for the program will also steer them to register with the Democratic Party.

On page 59, after numerous questions about the applicant's identity and qualification for Obamacare, comes the question: "Would you like to register to vote?" The placement of the question could lead some to believe they have to register to vote to get health care.

In the introduction of the document, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services declare: "This document -- the 'questionnaire' -- represents each possible item that may need to be asked for successful eligibility determinations."

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Monday, Rep. Charles Boustany Jr., chairman of the House Ways and Means Oversight subcommittee, said HHS is overstepping its bounds by a mile.

"The draft documents wander into areas outside the department's purview and links applications for health insurance subsidies to voter registration," he wrote in the letter provided to Secrets. "The position of the question could lead some to think voter registration is somehow tied to subsidy eligibility," he added.

Boustany, a Louisiana Republican, said the application raises two alarming issues: What does HHS plan to do with all the information it collects on each applicant, and will pro-Obama groups like AARP and Families USA -- which might be tapped as "navigators" to sign people up to Obamacare -- steer them to register as Democrats. Others have indicated that groups like Planned Parenthood and ACORN could also act as navigators.

In his letter, Boustany demands from HHS guidance for the navigator program, especially whether navigators will be encouraged to ask applicants about their voting status. He set an April 8 deadline for HHS' response.

He added that the Affordable Care Act does not let HHS probe into an applicant's choice to vote. What's more, he said the Paperwork Reduction Act requires that federal agencies seek only information needed to do their job.

"While the health care law requires that government agencies collect vast information about Americans' personal lives, it does not give your department an interest in whether individual Americans choose to vote," wrote Boustany.

Obamacare Draft Application