A staff member for Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., became”hostile” with state officials for reporting the number of state residents who received health insurance cancellation notices because of Obamacare.
The emails exposing the behavior were uncovered by the Complete Colorado blog, which noted the dispute came “at the height of controversy surrounding President Obama’s promises on the federal health care overhaul.”
The blog said Udall’s office “worked assiduously to revise press accounts that 249,000 Coloradans received health care cancellation notices.” But that figure came from Colorado Division of Insurance officials, who confirmed its accuracy.
The blog reported an email from Insurance Commissioner Director of External Affairs Jo Donlin said: “Sen. Udall says our numbers were wrong. They are not wrong. Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people. They want to trash our numbers. I’m holding strong while we get more details. Many have already done early renewals. Regardless, they received cancellation notices.”
Donlin reported a short time later: “Following my email, I received a very hostile phone call from Udall’s deputy chief of staff. [Insurance Commissioner] Marguerite [Salazar] is on the phone with [Udall’s] chief of staff right now Happy Friday!”
The reporting did not name the Udall staff involved.
In another email, the blog found that Udall staffer Joe Britton “gives away the extent to which Udall’s office was seeking complicit messaging from the Division of Insurance.”
That message said: “We need to move on this ASAP – or we’ll be forced to challenge the 249K number ourselves. It is wildly off or at least very misleading and reporters keep repeating it.”
The blog reported the “challenge” eventually came from Udall’s office, as the Denver Post reported.
That newspaper said in a story Friday that the state official “felt intimidated” by Udall’s legislative director in the conflict that came as Udall, up for re-election this year, “scrambled with other Democrats on Capitol Hill to defend a bungled rollout of the new health care law.”
Udall told the newspaper Thursday that the 249,000 figure wasn’t the number of people who outright lost their health insurance, calling it “only 4 percent of the story,” because some who got cancellation notices signed up for other coverage.
Nationwide, insurance carriers have reported handing out millions of cancellation notices for policies because they do not “qualify” under Obamacare, often lacking coverage for services the administration has deemed essential for everyone, such as contraception.
GOP strategist Dick Wadhams told the Post the actions of Udall’s staff were outrageous.
“For his staff to try to bully the state Division of Insurance staff to essentially falsify their numbers is absolutely reprehensible,” he told the Post. “He ought to come clean. He ought to fire his staffers. … Mark Udall needs to prove that he was not involved directly in this scandal.”
At the time of the exchange, Udall was working on the still-unapproved Continuous Coverage Act to let Americans keep their insurance coverage that already had been canceled under Obamacare, the Post said.
The report noted Salazar described the exchange as a “candid discussion,” but Salazar would not allow Donlin to be interviewed further. Salazar said the 250,000 figure was correct.
WND reported only a day earlier on the U.S. House of Representatives effort to force the Obama administration to reveal Obamacare enrollment data and other key figures so lawmakers and the public can see whether the goals are being met and the right people are signing up.
Facing a vote as early as Friday was the Exchange Information Disclosure Act, H.R. 3362, by Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
He told WND he brought up the plan because Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius refused to provide information when he asked for it.
Demographic information is important for lawmakers to have, since the system is predicated on millions of young, healthy people signing up to help bear the costs for older, less healthy people.
“This scheme of Obamacare collapses if young people aren’t signing up, so we need to know if young people are signing up,” he said. “What’s the demographic? And how many of the people signing up are actually going into Medicaid versus a policy? This is just simple, necessary information.”