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HHS Inspector General report requested by Senator Murray after Trump Administration officials pulled ACA enrollment outreach ads

(Washington, D.C.) –  U. S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate health committee, today released a report written by Health and Human Services (HHS) Inspector General (IG) that details results from an investigation into the Trump Administration’s decisions to pull Affordable Care Act (ACA) advertisements just a few days prior to the end of the 2017 open enrollment period.

Senator Murray, joined by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), requested the investigation on January 31, 2017 amid concerns that the Trump Administration decision was wasteful, unwarranted, and would reduce ACA enrollment. The report released today confirmed those concerns. It found that: 

  • The decision appears to be purely political in nature, with little analysis of the decision’s impact on ACA enrollment.  The Trump Administration’s HHS beachhead team first learned of the outreach plan on Wednesday evening, January 25. The White House liaison with the beachhead team, who is a former pharmaceutical company lobbyist, gave the order to cancel key portions of the outreach campaign the next morning, January 26.
  • The Trump Administration wasted $1.1 million in taxpayer funds, when payments for canceled outreach advertisements and activities could not be recouped.
  • The Trump Administration did not heed warnings from HHS staff that canceling the activities “would have detrimental effects on the risk pool for the individual market.”

“It is appalling that this Administration is so determined to sabotage health care that they were willing to cancel critical enrollment efforts without any consultation or analysis of how patients and families would be impacted as a result,” said Senator Murray. “President Trump’s actions to sow confusion around open enrollment, increase premiums, and hurt patients is a cruel way to score political points, and this pattern of governing by sabotage only makes it more critical that the Senate advance my bipartisan agreement negotiated with Chairman Alexander that shows families we can work together to undo the damage this Administration is causing.”

The 2018 ACA open enrollment period begins in one week, and the Trump Administration is continuing to take additional action to undermine the Affordable Care Act and increase health care costs.

Click HERE to read the full report.