Capitol Correspondence - 04.10.17

OIG Sends Message Cautioning Administration Against Undermining ACA

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In a letter dated March 23, Daniel Levinson, Inspector General at the Office of Inspection General (OIG) within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), informed Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) that his office will review the decision of the Trump administration to stop paid advertisements and temporarily suspend other outreach efforts aimed at Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace enrollment. The Senators had requested an investigation into those actions. 
Democrats hope the inquiry will cause HHS to think twice before taking actions that might be designed to undermine the ACA. It is one piece in a larger effort to continue to keep pressure on the administration to fully implement the ACA, which remains law after efforts to repeal and replace it fizzled out prior to the Easter recess. Even many supporters of the law acknowledge that there are problems that need to be addressed, but believe they call for tweaks to existing law rather than repeal and replacement. These supporters want to avoid the implosion of the ACA that the law’s opponents see as inevitable. The request to the OIG to investigate the effect of pulling advertisements and other outreach is an effort among Democrats to prevent the ACA’s implosion from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy orchestrated by the law’s opponents. The letter does not include a specific timeline for completion of the review.