GOP lawmaker wary of voter registration questions in Obama health law forms

A Republican lawmaker is concerned about voter registration questions buried in a draft application to receive benefits under President Obama's healthcare law.

Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), who leads a House subcommittee on oversight, said the questions' placement could lead some to believe that voter registration is tied to eligibility for the law's insurance exchanges.

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"While the healthcare 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," Boustany wrote in a letter Monday to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Government benefits are in no way tied to voter registration, and federal law prohibits agencies from misleading applicants or displaying political preferences.

Boustany pushed HHS to release all draft applications for the federally run exchanges, a list of the Obama administration officials who will approve the form, and whether outside groups will ask about voting status when they help people enroll.

"The healthcare law spans 974 pages … yet nowhere in the law is voter registration mentioned," Boustany wrote.

Many voters register in the process of receiving or renewing their driver's license, and applications for Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits usually afford the same chance.

States must offer an opportunity for voter registration through any office that provides public assistance, according to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Boustany leads the Ways and Means subcommittee on Oversight.