A Colorado Republican lawmaker challenging Democratic Sen. Mark Udall called for an investigation into allegations that the senator’s staff tried to intimidate state officials into revising the number of Obamacare-induced health insurance cancellations.
Rep. Amy Shephens called for the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies to investigate claims that Udall’s staff was “hostile” and bullying toward employees of the state insurance division, which reported in November that nearly 250,000 policies had been canceled.
As revealed in a series of emails first reported by Complete Colorado, Udall’s office took exception to the number because most of those who were canceled were also offered the option of renewing their policies.
“Sen. Udall says our numbers were wrong,” wrote Jo Donlin of the state Division of Insurance in an email to her colleagues. “They are not wrong. Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people. They want to trash our numbers.”
She later wrote in another message that Udall’s deputy chief of staff placed a “very hostile phone call” after she emailed with an explanation of the division’s calculations.
“I am deeply concerned about recent reports that U.S. Senator Mark Udall and/or Senator Udall’s staff exerted inappropriate and undue pressure on the Colorado Division of Insurance,” Stephens wrote in a letter to DORA Executive Director Barbara Kelley, according to the Denver Post. “I am requesting that you investigate these reports to determine the level of coercion by Senator Udall and/or his staff, and whether any laws or rules were violated as a result of this conduct.”
Both sides are sticking to their guns, with both Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar and Udall himself telling the Post that they believe their positions are right.
“I put my team to work to find out whether those numbers would stand up to scrutiny,” Udall told the paper. “I’m going to be there every day insuring that every Coloradan who wants health insurance gets health insurance.”
Stephens is a member of the state House Health and Human Services committee and she also serves on the committee overseeing the implementation of Colorado’s health insurance exchange.
“It is inappropriate for any federal or state elected official to exert influence on any state agency to advance their own political purposes,” Stephens wrote in her letter calling for an investigation.
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