During the House Oversight Committee hearing held today to examine the transparency failures of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) cast light on how the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) deployed a number of delay tactics when instructed to provide documents illustrating how the program enrollment data had been interpreted.
Tactics included engaging the Committee in a series of time-consuming negotiations, providing password locked and protected spreadsheets, and even printing documents in six-point font, “something that is not readable even with your reading glasses,” Issa said.
“HHS initially failed to provide any documents to explain how the numbers had been interpreted... Our requests were met with delays, runarounds that bordered on obstruction. After weeks of negotiation, CMS finally provided the enrollment data printed on spreadsheets with – for those who are my age will appreciate this – six-point font –something that is not readable even with your reading glasses.”
The House Oversight Committee had requested these documents to examine the source for the inflated Obamacare enrollment numbers presented before Congress by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Marilyn Tavenner.
“September 18th, 2014, the administrator Ms. Tavenner came before us and testified that in fact there were 7.3 million people enrolled in the, and I quote this carefully, ‘health insurance marketplace coverage,’" Issa stated.
"That tortured language had not previously been used, and it followed a series of document requests - after we were told, ‘trust us, the numbers are good’ - in which we discovered that, in fact, 7.3 million would have to include a fairly large 400,000 individuals in more or less $50 dental plans."
Issa said that, once access to the data had finally been gained, it quickly became obvious that, “All along, there had been a inherent deception." Issa also disputed the Administration's concept of a "goal":
“Obviously, when you say you met a goal, and the difference between making a goal and not making a goal are plans that nobody would consider a key element of the Affordable Care Act.”
* MRCTV Blogger Barbara Boland contributed to this report.