Administration Still “Mum” On Key HealthCare.gov Questions

August 8, 2014

Rep. Cassidy: “The self-proclaimed 'most transparent administration in history' has failed to shoot straight with the American public.”

Upon conclusion of the first open enrollment period, despite the broken promises and disastrous rollout, the Obama administration was quick to celebrate HealthCare.gov. But, as the second open enrollment period is approaching, the administration has remained silent, failing to provide even basic information. Recent hearings revealed the website is still incomplete and leading officials expect “bumps" during the next enrollment period, yet the administration has left many questions unanswered.

CNBC reports, “the federal government remains mum on several key questions about that online marketplace, which sells coverage in 36 states, and was built with hundred of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds. … HHS also would not disclose the premium rates that insurers have proposed to charge for their 2015 plans, which go on sale at HealthCare.gov when Obamacare's second enrollment season begins Nov. 15. … The federal government's lack of transparency on these questions has irked Obamacare supporters and critics alike.”

Energy and Commerce Committee member, Dr. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) commented to CNBC, “The self-proclaimed 'most transparent administration in history' has failed to shoot straight with the American public [and is] reluctant to share any meaningful or relevant information regarding the president's health-care law from the get go. There is no doubt that if there were positive news to spread, the administration would take to its megaphone and shout it from the rooftops, but the sad reality is that this law has led to canceled plans, fewer choices, higher costs and limited access to doctors. The law was built on the president's broken promises, and the White House has been focused on damage control ever since. The American people deserve to know the facts, especially when it involves their personal health-care options and potential costs.”

August 7, 2014

Tale of two Obamacares: States open with info, feds not much

By the close of Obamacare's first open enrollment in mid-April, the federal government was crowing about how many people had signed up via the HealthCare.gov insurance exchange that it operates.

But nearly four months later, the federal government remains mum on several key questions about that online marketplace, which sells coverage in 36 states, and was built with hundred of millions of dollars in taxpayer funds.

In sharp contrast to HealthCare.gov, the 15 health insurance exchanges run by individual states and the District of Columbia are, as a group, much more forthcoming with answers when asked those same kinds of questions.

The questions that the U.S. Health and Human Services Department wouldn't answer when asked by CNBC.com were:

  • The "paid rate," or how many HealthCare.gov enrollees actually paid for their insurance when they got their first month's bill, which is required for enrollment to be official;
  • A breakdown of how many people enrolled with each insurer on HealthCare.gov;
  • How many people have signed up after the close of open enrollment, during the so-called special enrollment period that allows people who have experienced events like divorce, marriage, a job loss or the birth of a child to buy insurance. HHS stopped doing monthly enrollment updates in May.

HHS also would not disclose the premium rates that insurers have proposed to charge for their 2015 plans, which go on sale at HealthCare.gov when Obamacare's second enrollment season begins Nov. 15.

The department noted that although some of the 36 states it serves do disclose such information via their insurance regulators, the majority don't. …

The federal government's lack of transparency on these questions has irked Obamacare supporters and critics alike.

It also has raised questions about whether the Obama administration is withholding answers to questions—particularly about HealthCare's "paid rate" and how much premiums will rise in 2015—because of fear that information could hurt Democratic candidates in the this fall's congressional elections.

"The self-proclaimed 'most transparent administration in history' has failed to shoot straight with the American public [and is] reluctant to share any meaningful or relevant information regarding the president's health-care law from the get go," said Rep. Bill Cassidy, R-La.

"There is no doubt that if there were positive news to spread, the administration would take to its megaphone and shout it from the rooftops, but the sad reality is that this law has led to canceled plans, fewer choices, higher costs and limited access to doctors," said Cassidy, who is a medical doctor. "The law was built on the president's broken promises, and the White House has been focused on damage control ever since. The American people deserve to know the facts, especially when it involves their personal health-care options and potential costs."

Caroline Pearson, vice president of health reform at the consultancy Avalere Health, said the federal government could "quickly" get the answers to the questions that CNBC posed from insurers, even if that information is not immediately at hand.

"There is clearly a political motivation" in the failure of HHS to release either the paid rate or the proposed premiums for 2015, Pearson said. …

Read the complete article online here

###