Politics

Feds Blow Off House Subpoena For Obamacare Co-Op Docs

Federal health officials refuse to give Congress hundreds of subpoenaed documents on Obamacare’s failed co-ops so that people will continue enrolling in the deeply troubled program, a congressional leader said Tuesday.

Twelve of the 23 co-ops created in 2011 under Obamacare at a cost of $2.4 billion have failed, and another eight of the remaining 11 are likely to go under this year. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) won’t hand over documents subpoenaed months ago by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Republican Rep. [crscore]Jason Chaffetz[/crscore], who chairs the House oversight committee, thinks HHS officials are purposely keeping potential co-op customers in the dark as long as possible.

“Health and Human Services has not provided any valid legal reason for withholding information from this committee,” Chaffetz said during a Tuesday hearing on federal agencies’ failures to comply with congressional document requests. “Rather, they assert that if certain information was released publicly, it could cause consumers to think twice before enrolling in CO-OP insurance plans.”

The co-ops have already cost taxpayers billions, leaving many enrollees “scrambling” to find new health insurance, he added. More than 800,000 customers have lost coverage through the failures nationwide, and many more are expected to lose coverage in 2016.

Federal health officials are also denying medical reimbursements to doctors and hospitals that have served patients insured by failed co-ops, a DCNF investigation found.

Federal reports have documented personal information security concerns, website failures and poor eligibility screening processes plaguing Obamacare exchanges and co-ops.

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The committee sent a letter to HHS Acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt in November, demanding the documents about criteria for determining co-op sustainability and viability, co-op and exchange corrective action plans, the financial status of each co-op and exchange, the total federal taxpayer funds expended on each co-op and exchange, and any plans to recoup federal funding provided to failed co-ops and exchanges.

When most of the requested documents were withheld, the committee issued the February 2016 subpoena Chaffetz says HHS officials are now defying. “Our efforts to obtain information about these programs have been met with unexplained delays and what seems like bad faith,” he said.

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