Obama administration faces scrutiny over ACA transparency

November 26, 2014

Though the second enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act has been operating fairly glitch free, the healthcare reform law and the Obama administration are facing major scrutiny from Republicans.

Though the second enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been operating fairly glitch free, the healthcare reform law and the Obama administration are facing major scrutiny from Republicans.

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In the final week that Congress is in session this year, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will be hearing from two people involved in alleged “repeated transparency failures and outright deceptions,” according to Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-California).

“Americans were told if they liked their plans and doctors, they could keep them. They were told the individual mandate wasn’t a tax. None of these were true,” Issa said in a press release announcing the hearing.

On December 9, ACA consultant and Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist Jonathan Gruber will testify before the committee concerning a series of videos that recorded remarks Gruber made about how Obama administration intentionally mislead the public about the ACA.

“Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing (ACA) to pass,” Gruber says in a YouTube video recorded at a University of Pennsylvania panel in October 2013.

Also, Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, will testify at the hearing about exaggerated ACA enrollment numbers. The number of people enrolled in the first ACA enrollment period was inflated by almost 400,000 dental plans to help the Obama administration look like it reached its goal of 7 million enrolleees, according to findings released on November 20 by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. In a response to Issa, Tavenner admitted that “a mistake was made,” and that as of October 15, only 6.7 million signed up for insurance through the healthcare exchanges during the first enrollment period.

“While there were 7.3 million effectuated enrollments, approximately 393,000 individuals had both Marketplace medical and dental coverage as of August 15, 2014. As a result, these individuals were inadvertently counted twice in the individual effectuated enrollment numbers,” Tavenner said in the letter to Issa.

“The American people deserve honesty, transparency and respect from those who forced the federal government into their healthcare. I expect Mr. Gruber and Administrator Tavenner to testify publicly next month about the arrogance and deceptions surrounding the passage and implementation of ObamaCare,” Issa said.

On November 21, Republicans from the U.S. House of Representatives, led by House Speaker Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), filed a lawsuit against President Barack Obama alleging the president overstepped his boundaries when he delayed the ACA employer mandate for a year in July 2013. Obama delayed the employer mandate again in February for small businesses with 50 to 99 employees until 2016.

“Too often over the past five years, the president has circumvented the American people and their elected representatives through executive action, changing and creating his own laws, and excusing himself from enforcing statutes he is sworn to uphold -- at times even boasting about his willingness to do it, as if daring the American people to stop him,” Boehner wrote in an editorial for CNN.