OTR Interviews

Are ObamaCare navigators breaking the law?

House Oversight committee report says ObamaCare navigators have been giving Americans misinformation and encouraging enrollees to commit fraud

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," December 16, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Are ObamaCare navigators breaking the law? A new report shows many of them are telling you to commit fraud. The report claims some ObamaCare navigators telling people to lie on their health care applications in order to get better credits and subsidies. Guess what? That is a fraud. That's illegal. You can go to jail for that stuff.

Congressman Trey Gowdy joins us. Good evening, sir.

REP. TREY GOWDY, R-S.C.: Good evening. How are you?

VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. Am I right this is one of the suspicions that navigators are telling people how to commit a crime?

GOWDY: It is more than a suspicion. There are at least two tapes that I'm aware of. One was lie about your finances and the other was lie about your preexisting habit of smoking, both of which would impact your premium you're your subsidy.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I am looking at the U.S. House of Representatives report. I have a copy right here. And I will read the part you were just talking about. It says, "Navigators from the Urban League of Dallas were captured on video encouraging applicants to lie on their health insurance applications so the applicants could qualify for tax subsidies. Navigators were also recording advising applicants to lie about smoking habits to obtain a lower monthly premium."

Has this been referred to the Department of Justice of to the local U.S. attorney?

GOWDY: I doubt it. Nothing much seems to get referred these days for criminal prosecution. I don't even know whether they've lost their job, Greta. I know the young lady who made the mistakes of answering Sean Hannity's questions on the phone lost her job. I don't even know if these two have lost their job. But there is no background check and it's 20 hours of training. You undergo more training to be a life guard at a reflection poll than you do to be a navigator. And you can take the test as many times as you need to. Think of how well you would have done in school if you could keep taking the test until you pass it.

The navigator thing -- it is a shame you have to have a navigator to access a federal program to begin with. Then, no background check and 20 hours of training and taking the test as many times as you want, and then you can council people to commit frauds once you want to enroll.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's basic law, for those who are unaware. If you participate and aid and abet someone in committing a crime, you are just as guilty as a principle. Every time you do it, it's another count. If you do it with five people as a navigator, those are five felony counts right there. Right?

GOWDY: Well, we can't even get the GAO -- yeah, you are right. It's aiding and abetting. And if you know about it, and don't report it, it's a felony. But we can't get anybody prosecuted by this Department of Justice. So hold out no hope. I will just settle if they don't get to keep their jobs and counsel more people.

VAN SUSTEREN: But why -- why did you have to go all the way to Justice. Why can't you have the U.S. attorney in Dallas or the first assistant to call them up and say convene a grand jury? You don't have to get permission from Eric Holder. If you start an investigation and Eric Holder suddenly stepped on it, from D.C. to Dallas, that would raise holy hell within the ranks of the U.S. attorneys.

GOWDY: It has happen before. But you are right. The U.S. attorney and the district in Texas that happens to be could do that. And for all I know, they may be working on it. I think it is a shame, if you have on tape somebody counseling someone else to commit a fraud against the taxpayers, and there is no sanction or consequence. It would be a nice start if you just lost your job before you got referred for criminal prosecutions.

VAN SUSTEREN: We should make note, when you talk about the subsidies, if you're trying to -- if they are lying about his or her income so they get a subsidy, that means taxpayers pay extra money out of their pocket to some insurance company. Taxpayers, they are the ones that suffer financially.

GOWDY: You have the whole concept of unjust enrichment. But, Greta, for whatever reason, people seem to treat government money differently than they do their own, and it is OK to lie to get a higher subsidy or I -- Yeah, we have a lot of issues in this country, morality being one of them. I just can't believe that someone -- the taxpayers are paying the salary for a navigator that's counseling someone to defraud taxpayers out of money. I would love to leave Congress and prosecute the case myself, and the one you referenced in the last segment as well

VAN SUSTEREN: Let me ask you about the contracts and the subpoena. I have a copy of a letter that was sent to Chairman Darrell Issa, and the letter is from Alfred Grasso and it's the MITRE Corporation. He's trying to explain why it is that he doesn't want to comply directly with the subpoena from the House Oversight Committee. He is one of the contractors. What is his excuse for not complying with a subpoena?

GOWDY: There is a contract that forbids him from making disclosures to third partnerships. But I've got news for Kathleen Sebelius, Congress is not a third party. And my guess is that gentlemen, if he hasn't sought legal counsel and concluded he needs to comply with this subpoena very shortly, will. Two contractors reached the right conclusion. Which if between Kathleen Sebelius and Darrell Issa, you are better off doing what Darrell Issa tells you to do.

VAN SUSTEREN: Will Congress and Chairman Issa put their foot down and get these documents? There's always such a long dance in getting them. If it is a subpoena, they should provide them no questions asked.

GOWDY: Yes, then we'll fight over the redactions. Lots of the documents are redacted. And then, Greta, you don't know what you don't know. So if the contractor gives information but it's not a total disclosure, we don't know what we don't have. Underlying your question is also, why does nothing ever happen to people who don't do what Congress tells them to do? That's a recurring conversation that you and I have. The fact that Kathleen Sebelius, if -- if told someone not to conform to a subpoena, even if they do, I would encourage Chairman Issa to still investigate it. To me, it is not all's well that ends well. If you counsel someone to impede a congressional investigation, even if they don't take your advice, I would love to see them investigated. And my suspicion is that my advice would be well received by Chairman Issa.

VAN SUSTEREN: The irony is they all work for us. The contractors are getting paid with our money as taxpayers. Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of HHS, works for us. We are the only ones who don't get the information. Everyone is taking our money and having secret contracts that we can't even see and we don't even know how they're spending our money. We don't even know what is in the contracts.

GOWDY: Not only are they taking your money but they're taking your personal information. This is what all of this is about, is whether or not your information is secure. And I have colleagues on the other side of the aisle who want to convene a special College of Cardinals to keep Darrell Issa from getting information so he can know whether or not your data is secure or not.

(CROSSTALK)

GOWDY: It's not just your money, it's also -- yes, ma'am.

VAN SUSTEREN: It is also your personal stuff.

Congressman, thank you very much. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to interrupt you. But thank you, sir.

GOWDY: Yes, ma'am. And have a good night.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you, too,