Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform, today blasted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for failing to provide documents the committee had requested through letters as well as a subpoena.
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The committee has been seeking information about the status of 11 surviving Consumer Operated and Oriented Program (CO-OP) carriers. Twelve of the CO-OP carriers, which were started with loans provided through a Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) provision, have failed since they came to life in January 2014. Eight of the remaining carriers are operating under corrective action plans set up by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
CMS is the HHS arm that oversees the CO-OP program and other PPACA programs that affect the commercial health insurance market.
Jim Esquea, the assistant secretary for legislation at HHS, told Chaffetz at a hearing on federal agency document production, which was held in Washington and streamed live on the Internet, that HHS has provided about 30,000 pages of CO-OP documents since November, and will give members private access to other, unredacted documents at other times. Esquea said members of his staff will meet with members of the House Oversight staff later this week to see what questions remain unanswered.
Chaffetz said providing access to documents is not the same as providing documents, and that HHS has still not answered the committee’s questions. “At least tell us what’s happening with the recoupment of the taxpayer dollars” lent to the CO-OPs that failed, he said.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said he is still looking for answers to basic questions such as how many of the surviving CO-OPs with corrective action plans CMS has visited in person.
“You can’t even tell me which of those 11 you went out to visit,” Jordan said.
“We are working to get that information for you from CMS,” Esquea said.