Senator to Block HHS Nominees Because of Obamacare Co-op Failures

Cortney O'Brien
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Posted: Oct 20, 2015 11:30 AM
Senator to Block HHS Nominees Because of Obamacare Co-op Failures

Eight of the 23 Obamacare co-ops have failed. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) is just one of many Americans who find this unacceptable. He, however, has the power to do something about it. Until families get some insight into why they lost their insurance under CoOportunity Health, a nonprofit health insurance cooperative offered as an alternative to pubic plan options, Sasse will be halting nominations to the Health and Human Services agency.

"I will act to block consideration and confirmation of every HHS nominee until families who lost their co-op insurance plans get straight answers. Hundreds of thousands of enrollees lost their plans when co-ops in nine states collapsed and these victims deserve clear and honest answers from the bureaucrats who oversaw the mess. Until these families are given complete answers, the Senate should not confirm any HHS nominees. This isn’t a partisan crusade frankly, Republicans and Democrats from these nine states have an opportunity to stand together and demand answers for our constituents so that this kind of failure never happens again."

CoOportunity Health had some fundamental flaws from the get go. It lacked a competitive edge and was steered by a political agenda, reports the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Sasse first pressed HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell about the failing co-ops back in May, demanding specific answers regarding the fiasco. When he received a lackluster response, he was forced to write a follow up letter. He cited many features that were still “unclear.” Sasse wondered, for instance, how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services determined the co-op plans would be financially viable. The government’s response was insupportable, urging him to come up with his own answers.

As highlighted in my previous letter, CoOportunity’s financial troubles were likely due to its inability to properly price its products. As a result, premium revenue was not great enough to cover claims’ costs. Concerning the oversight of CoOportunity’s rates, CMS takes no responsibility, writing, “[r]ate review and approval as it relates to specific plans and products is a matter of state regulatory authority.”

Hundreds of thousands of Americans enrolled in these faulty plans and spent $2.4 billion in loans, Sasse added. Don’t they deserve to know why they wasted their time and money?

Until Sasse’s letter is answered, HHS Assistant Secretary nominee Karen DeSalvo will have to wait.