A local program aimed to help North Texans sign up for the new government healthcare created by the Affordable Care Act -- often referred to as Obamacare -- is under fire after undercover cameras recorded employees telling an applicant to lie on their health care applications.
The conservative action group Project Veritas recorded employees inside the Urban League's Irving office talking with a man who said he needed help applying for health care.
In the video, the undercover man talked with a woman who was identified by the Urban League as a part-time receptionist. After the man asked about designating himself as a smoker on his health care forms, the woman warns him the designation will cost him money and recommends that he lies on the forms.
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"I don't know where it said it says something about if you smoke or something like that but I don't really smoke…," the undercover man said in the video.
"You lie because your premiums will be higher," the receptionist said.
"OK. OK," the man agrees.
The receptionist continues on video saying, "Don't tell them that. Don't tell them that. But don't tell 'em."
View the entire raw video released by the group.
A statement from the Urban League of Greater Dallas stated the receptionist was not part of the Obamacare Navigator program and was not qualified to recommend anything. That woman has been fired by the group.
"The part-time receptionist trainee shown in the Irving office was not, nor had ever been, authorized to speak on behalf of The Urban League of Greater Dallas, or as a Navigator, and represented her personal opinion, not that of our organization. As such and as a result of our investigation thus far, her employment with The Urban League of Greater Dallas has been terminated," the group said.
Additionally, a second video released by the same undercover group showed Urban League navigator trainees in the Dallas office recommended not revealing cash income on health care forms after the applicant stated he didn't claim all the income on his tax return.
"You making on a cash basis business. Don't tell. Don't get yourself in trouble by declaring it now. Yeah, it didn't happen," the woman said on video. "Definitely with that other, just act as if that did not happen. Never report it."
Watch that full raw video below.
The Navigator trainee cited in the video and two other navigator trainees were decertified by the Department of Health and Human Services and suspended from their positions at the Urban League.
"In addition, we support actions by the Department of Health & Human Services to decertify the three Navigators-in-training featured in the video, and The Urban League of Greater Dallas has suspended these employees until further notice," a statement from the Urban League said.
The group also said they are continuing to train Navigators, but are not authorizing anyone in the group to act as one "at this point."
"We take our responsibility as an organization training and deploying Navigators seriously, and as such, our organization has not authorized any of our employees to operate as Navigators at this point. While this information was conveyed to the undercover applicant and corrective comments were made – in the presence of the undercover applicant – regarding some of the instructions provided by these individuals, unfortunately the full context of these comments is not reflected in the video," the group said.
Project Veritas founder James O'Keefe previously made headlines with an undercover video series that targeted ACORN. In that series, O'Keefe posed as a "pimp" with a female associate playing the role of a prostitute. The pair discusses ways to avoid being found by authorities for prostitution and other illicit activities with low-level ACORN employees in multiple US cities. Those videos lead to an investigation of ACORN and contributed to the organization's bankruptcy in 2010.