The Obama administration isn't taking credit for a provision in the Affordable Care Act that encourages people to register to vote, although White House officials obviously favor the prescription.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that including the voter-registration question on applications for health insurance coverage actually dates to a Clinton-era precedent.
"Checking off whether or not you want to register to vote goes back to a 1993 law regarding Medicaid, which maybe Republicans opposed," Mr. Carney said. "This predates the Affordable Care Act."
He apparently was referring to the national voter-registration law signed by President Clinton in 1993, which required state governments to allow for registration when a voter applied for social services, including Medicaid, or for a driver's license.
When a reporter suggested that Obamacare would be used to register more Democrats to vote, Mr. Carney again asserted, "It's not about the Affordable Care Act."
But he added, "I'm not sure that it's such a terrible thing that people might want to register to vote."
A House Republican leader on Monday asked the administration to explain why it included the voter question in a draft application to use insurance marketplaces under the health-care law. If people respond "yes" to the voter-registration question, they are linked to an online voter application form.
"While the healthcare portions are lengthy and complex on their own, the draft documents wander into areas outside the Department's purview and links applications for health insurance subsidies to voter registration," Rep. Charles W. Boustany Jr., Louisiana Republican, said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
The lawmaker noted that in 974 pages of the health-care law, "nowhere in the law is voter registration mentioned."
Mr. Boustany said applicants could get confused by the question when it is tied to the "Obamacare" application. The registration section comes after applicants review their eligibility status for insurance policies and learn how to complain if they feel they've been discriminated against.
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