Sasse blocking HHS nominees until Americans who lost their insurance get answers

Today, U.S. Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE), who earlier this week announced his intent to block consideration and confirmation of every HHS nominee until the Administration gives a complete and transparent accounting of the systemic failures of the Affordable Care Act's CO-OP program, sent the following letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell.

The full text of the Senator's letter is found below.

Dear Secretary Burwell:

Since my last inquiry into the Affordable Care Act’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan (CO-OP) program, an additional seven CO-OPs have announced they will cease operations in 2016. As you know, this means nine out of 23 CO-OPS have now failed, accounting for about half of all CO-OP enrollees. Because hundreds of thousands of consumers are or were enrolled in these health plans and hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars were loaned to these nine failed insurers, it is crucial that we understand the cause of these failures. I believe strongly that the people who have had or will have their coverage disrupted deserve answers.

To that end, please provide a complete and transparent accounting of the CO-OP program’s widespread failures. This includes comprehensive answers to my two previous letters (sent May 22 and August 6) and basic documents related to the financial integrity and management of all nine unsuccessful CO-OPs. Please provide:

1. With respect to all closed or closing CO-OPs:

a. Any initial business plan and application for the loan funding opportunity;

b. Any semi-annual report, quarterly financial report, and milestone review;

c. Any performance certifications; and

d. Any document evaluating the CO-OP’s financial viability or solvency.

2. Any report or evaluation produced by Deloitte LLC concerning any solvency or expansion loan awarded to any CO-OP.

I appreciate your cooperation in fully answering my previous questions and providing these documents. Please let me know if you need any clarification of these inquiries.


Ben Sasse
U.S. Senator 

Additional background:

On May 6, 2015, Sasse wrote to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell seeking answers regarding CoOportunity's failure. In June, HHS offered an insufficient response, prompting Sasse to send an August 6 letter (available here) detailing nine specific questions. In more than two months since receiving those questions, HHS has not responded despite the fact that an additional seven CO-OPs have failed.