New emails released on Dem senator’s resistance to Obamacare cancellation numbers

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New emails have been released about whether Colorado Democratic Sen. Mark Udall pressured a state agency to change its estimate of Obamacare cancellations.

Udall wanted the state Department of Insurance to downgrade its estimate of Obamacare-related insurance cancellations from 250,000 to just 73,000, because some Colorado residents were offered replacement plans.

After releasing his own estimate in November, Udall plunged the state government into a media storm involving Gov. John Hickenlooper’s communications director and the insurance commissioner, according to the newly released emails.

“Udall is broad brushing and assuming that because Anthem and Kaiser offered early renewals, the people who received that option after receiving a cellation [sic] notice should not be counted. Commissioner Salazar would like to tell Sen. Udall that 250,000 people were in fact affected by cancellation notices,” insurance department director of external affairs Jo Donlin wrote in November, according to the new release.

Alan Salazar, political advisor to Gov. Hickenlooper, even offered to have an employee “run interference” with Udall’s staff for Donlin. Although Salazar considered it “perfectly alright to communicate directly with their office,” it may be indication that the senator’s office was hostile. 

Others have tried to mitigate public outcry against the 5 million Obamacare cancellations nationwide by touting replacement options, but in a number of cases the compliant replacement plans are much more expensive.

Obamacare’s added requirements — from mandated “essential health benefit” services that insurers must cover, to minimum actuarial values for plans, to upped limits on yearly benefits — force up the prices.

The state’s Department of Insurance still estimates that 250,000 Coloradoans were affected by insurance cancellations due to the Affordable Care Act — for which Udall voted. But when the agency released its report detailing the cancellations, Donlin emailed colleagues warning that the senator’s office had tried to “trash” their numbers. (RELATED: Sen. Mark Udall tried to ‘trash’ independent Obamacare cancellation numbers

When the department didn’t back down, Donlin then reported a “very hostile” phone call from Udall’s deputy chief of staff, first reported by Complete Colorado in January.

After the emails were released, a panel from Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies cleared Udall’s office of wrongdoing, but provided no documentation. (RELATED: Tancredo wants heads to roll over Colorado’s ‘investigation’ into Sen. Udall’s office

Udall is up for reelection in November.

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