Committee Pursues Greater Transparency, Requests Health Care Enrollment Figures
WASHINGTON, DC – House Energy and Commerce Committee leaders today sent a request to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius seeking data on the number of individuals who have purchased a health care plan through the law’s new exchanges. In the months leading up to open-enrollment, administration officials insisted everything was “on track,” going so far as to assure members less than two weeks before launch, “Consumers will be able to go online, they will be able to get a determination of what tax subsidies they are eligible for, they’ll be able to look at the plans that are available where they live, they will be able to see the premium net of subsidy that they would have to pay, and they will be able to choose a plan and get enrolled in coverage beginning October 1.” Despite over three and a half years to prepare, last week’s launch was defined by errors and “glitches” in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.
“For the last three and a half years, the administration repeatedly promised that everything was ‘on track’ for enrollment, but widespread reports of website failures and the administration’s lack of transparency suggest otherwise,” said full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “Although the administration was quick to boast how many people visited their website the first week, they have been silent on the most important numbers of all, enrollment. It is time for the administration to provide regular updates on enrollment figures to ensure the American people have a real understanding just how implementation is proceeding.”
In the letter to Sebelius, the committee leaders write, “To date, the administration has only provided information about the number of visits to healthcare.gov, the number of web-chats, and the number of calls to a toll-free number. No information has been released on the number of Americans that have actually enrolled. Multiple reports indicate, though, that some states failed to enroll anyone on the first day. The reasons for this are not clear. Are website failures preventing enrollment? Are consumers balking at the price of coverage, which was predicted to be significantly higher for many individuals?”
In order to better determine the progress of the health care law’s implementation, members are calling on the administration to release enrollment figures and an evaluation of the federal marketplaces. They add, “going forward we ask that your agency provide monthly updates to the committee on enrollment until March 31, 2014, including the number of individuals enrolled and the performance of the federally facilitated marketplaces. If you are unable to provide this information to the committee on this timetable, provide a written response identifying the specific reasons why HHS is not able to confirm the number of individuals who have successfully enrolled in the federally facilitated marketplaces.”
In addition to Chairman Upton, the letter was signed by Vice Chairman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Chairman Emeritus Joe Barton (R-TX), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA), Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts, (R-PA), Vice Chairman of the Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), and the GOP members of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
Read the full text of the letter here.