Right Hooks

Broken ObamaCare Co-Ops Cheat the System

Jordan Candler · Mar. 1, 2016

During his weekly address on June 27, 2015, Barack Obama responded to a favorable Supreme Court ruling from two days earlier on the legality of ObamaCare subsidies by boasting, “This law is working exactly as it’s supposed to — and in some ways, better than we expected it to. … [I]t is time to stop refighting battles that have been settled again and again. It’s time to move on.” If only we could. The reason we can’t (aside from the Supreme Court getting it wrong twice) is because the law is not working, no matter how you spin it. Not only is enrollment tanking, but a new poll shows that very few people are seeing any benefits, and already 12 of the nearly two dozen ObamaCare co-ops have imploded. As for the rest? They, too, are on shaky ground.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services unloaded a bombshell on Congress last week by revealing that eight more co-ops may soon be headed for closure. According to The Washington Free Beacon, “The agency’s chief operating officer, Dr. Mandy Cohen, told the House Oversight and Government Reform committee that the 11 co-ops that remain are ‘being monitored closely,’ and that eight have a corrective action plan in place and are under enhanced oversight. Cohen explained that a co-op is put on a corrective action plan when the agency identifies issues with its finances, operations, compliance, or management processes.” If history is any indication, they won’t last long.

The news gets worse. A separate Free Beacon story published Tuesday says, “Co-ops created under Obamacare reported net assets despite losing millions because they used an accounting trick approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. … In July 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services amended its agreement with co-ops, allowing them to list $2.4 billion in loans they received from taxpayers as assets.” So not only are co-ops closing left and right, but the federal government allowed them to cheat the system, all while CEOs pulled in hundreds of thousands of dollars. If this was happening in the private sector, would Obama claim the system “is working exactly as it’s supposed to — and in some ways, better than we expected it to”?

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