March 24, 2017

HHS Inspector General Confirms Investigation of Trump Administration Suspension of Affordable Care Act Outreach Efforts

Senators Warren and Murray Requested Investigation of Halted Outreach, Which Threatens Strength of Marketplaces and Could Increase Consumer Costs

Washington, DC - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) has initiated a review requested by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) into the Department's decision to halt advertisements and suspend e-mail and social media outreach in the final days of the 2017 Affordable Care Act (ACA) open enrollment season.

The OIG said the review will include "the timeline, decision-making process, and factors considered by HHS, including any analyses of implications for enrollment and/or expected costs or savings."

"I'm glad that there will be an independent review of the Trump Administration's decision to cut off efforts to enroll people in the ACA," Senator Warren said. "President Trump and congressional Republicans have made clear that their priorities include destroying the protection that ACA gives millions of families. HHS's move to halt outreach for ACA enrollment could contribute to weakening health care marketplaces and raising costs for hard working people across the country."

"Secretary Price has a duty to provide the public with accurate and timely information so that they can make decisions about their health care," said Senator Patty Murray. "I'm glad this investigation is underway, and I am going to continue to hold Secretary Price and Republicans accountable for any and all efforts to create Trumpcare by sabotaging our health care system and undermining families' access to care they need."

In their January letter to the OIG, Murray and Warren noted that HHS's decision to halt outreach "has been labeled ‘outrageous' and ‘irresponsible'," and that "the strength of the ACA marketplaces-which enrolled nearly 13 million people during open enrollment in 2016 -depends, in part, on attracting young, healthy enrollees, whose involvement in the marketplaces keeps premium costs down for all enrollees."

They cited significant public confusion about HHS's actions, including comments from an anonymous HHS spokesman who claimed that canceling advertisements would result in cost savings to taxpayers despite indications that these advertisements were already paid for.