This week, the media learned of an Affordable Care Act website, created in late August by the California Assembly Republican caucus.
Crooks and Liars (which appears to be the first to have written about the website, after spotting a mailer that referenced it): CA Assembly GOP Puts Up Fake California Health Exchange Site
San Diego Free Press: The GOP’s Latest Dirty Trick–A Fake California Covered Healthcare Website
And the Los Angeles Times: An underhanded anti-Obamacare stunt by the California GOP
Bias against, and misinformation about, the ACA is subtly woven throughout the site, found in lines like, "The Affordable Care Act has a number of provisions that have driven up insurance costs" and "Seniors on Medicare may not see changes immediately to their benefits or coverage. Down the line, however, the erosion and accessibility of care may become a problem," and "... there is an argument that the Affordable Care Act provides strong incentives for firms to avoid hiring workers from low-income households." There's a "list of Obamacare taxes" (whether they're all actually taxes is open to debate) and a penalty calculator.
Figuring out who's behind the site is tough: You have to scroll to the bottom where there's this:
After I tweeted about the website, referring to it as "fake," I got a call from Sabrina Lockhart, spokesperson for Connie Conway, the caucus leader.
(Re: tweet: Yes, I know all GOP legislators are caucus members; I was referring to caucus leadership, but "leadership" pushed the tweet over 140 characters.)
Lockhart said the site was created after legislators starting getting phone calls from constituents about the ACA. The site's "just a resource guide," she said. "We launched the website to help answer questions. The intent was to do it in simple, easy-to-understand terms."
She said that the caucus used existing staff to create the site, and Conway paid for the domain name out of her own pocket. As to why elected officials don't just direct callers to Covered California, Lockhart pointed out that the website includes a link.
(According to the L.A. Times, prior to yesterday, it didn't include that link.)
All members of the caucus link to coveringhealthcareca.com—either via button or text—on their websites. Unlike their Democratic cohorts, none link to the state's Covered California website, which has been praised for its functionality, has an extensive FAQ and where folks can actually sign up for health insurance.