Chairman Johnson Slams CMS For Lack of Oversight of Obamacare Co-ops

WASHINGTON — Senators on Thursday reviewed the collapse of the Affordable Care Act health insurance co-op programs that failed millions of Americans. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, questioned Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), during the hearing of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.  

VIDEO: Click here to watch Sen. Johnson’s questioning.

Johnson began, “What is the natural result of what was going to happen with these government-run co-ops? Because they are going come in, they are going try and gain market share, and they are going to underprice their product based on what their loss ratio would be, correct?

“Isn’t that exactly what happened, and isn’t that exactly why the American taxpayer is on the hook for about $2.4 billion dollars now in loans? …That’s exactly what happened, though, correct?”

Slavitt said, “That is correct in many cases, yes.”

Johnson asked, “Did you ever think for a minute that this government-run health care system would actually deliver health care costs $2,500 less per year per family?

Slavitt replied, “So the way I interpret that $2,500, maybe I’m not interpreting it correctly, is that would be the reduction in health care cost trend under the Affordable Care Act.”

Johnson said, “Do you think that’s the way the American people heard that?”

Slavitt replied, “I think that’s how some people heard it.”

Johnson added, “Another promise Obama made, and other supporters of the bill made, is that ‘if you like your health care plan, you can keep it, period.’… Coming from the private sector, looking at the Obamacare law, you knew, from the private sector, those high risk pools would be gone, correct?  That people that were being insured by those high risk pools would not have access to those health care plans, correct? Did you have any doubt those things would survive? Did you believe President Obama’s repeated assurance and promise that ‘if you like your health care plan, you can keep it, period’? Did you ever for a minute believe that claim?… In other words, you did not believe President Obama’s claim that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it?”

Slavitt replied, “I think what happened was there were folks who had coverage that was below a standard that the Affordable Care Act set and so some of those people did in fact lose their coverage, as you well know.”

Johnson said, “My point is those promises made by President Obama were ruled (the) PolitiFact 2013 lie of the year. Coming from the private sector, had you made those kinds of assurances to your policy holders, do you think your company would still be in business? Had your business, had you as the CEO or as a senior manager of one of those businesses conducted that level of massive consumer fraud, what would have happened to a private sector business? You wouldn’t be around, would you? You would be facing an enormous number of lawsuits.”

Slavitt said, “I think our interpretations are a little bit different, but I understand your point.”

Johnson sent a letter to CMS on Jan. 19, 2016 asking for more information on the failed co-ops programs. The letter can be found here.

Johnson recently released a report detailing wasteful Obamacare tax credits. The report can be found here.