Udall Reportedly Sought to Downplay Colo. Cancellation Numbers

Image: Udall Reportedly Sought to Downplay Colo. Cancellation Numbers

Thursday, 09 Jan 2014 02:26 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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Democratic Colorado Sen. Mark Udall allegedly attempted to pressure his state’s Division of Insurance to dispel media reports that 249,000 Coloradans received health care cancellation notices following the Obamcare Oct. 1 rollout, according to The Complete Colorado.

A Nov. 14 email to colleagues from Jo Donlin, director of external affairs for Colorado’s Division of Insurance, says Udall complained that the 249,199 figure was incorrect. Donlin stood her ground and defended the number, the conservative online publication reported.

“You are correct that Coloradans affected by these cancellations were provided options and some of them chose early renewals,” Donlin explained in an email. “However, the early renewals were one option presented along with the options to purchase a different plan from the same carrier or purchase a plan from a different carrier, both inside or outside Connect for Health Colorado. We required carriers to provide all these options as part of their cancellation notices. Also, many people affected by the cancellation notices have not chosen an early renewal.”

After sending the explanatory email to Udall’s staff as well as Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper, Donlin emailed her staff that she had received “a very hostile call” from Udall’s deputy chief of staff, according to Complete Colorado.

On Nov. 15, TheDenver Post published a story saying Udall’s office claimed to have researched the figure and found that more than two-thirds of the people who received cancellation notices were offered renewals of existing plans through 2014.

The controversy over the reported cancellations in Colorado erupted as millions of Americans across the country began receiving similar notices despite repeated assurances by President Barack Obama that if they liked their policies, they could keep them.www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_24533519/were-coloradans-canceled-or-offered-renewal-their-health

The criticism of the cancellations led the president o announce a year-long extension for Americans to keep existing policies for a year that insurance companies could either accept or reject. At the same time, Udall was already hard at work crafting legislation that would have allowed for a two-year extension.

A day before the president’s announcement, Division of Insurance Communications Manager Vincent Plymell sent an email to Udall’s office, alerting them that the agency would be unable to support the canceled policy legislation “because it would undermine various actuarial and marketplace assumptions for the Colorado health insurance exchange.”

Udall, who approval rating was hovering around 40 percent in December, could be facing a hard re-election campaign. He has not commented on the controversy surrounding the cancellations.

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