GOP slams White House for plotting with insurers

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee in a new report have accused White House officials of colluding with insurers that threatened to raise premiums under the Affordable Care Act.

The report alleged that only a month after the threats, the Obama administration issued rules allowing for a taxpayer-funded insurer bailout via the risk corridor program, which transfers money from successful insurers to those that aren't as profitable.

The White House initially said the risk corridor program would be a budget neutral component of the ACA and, therefore, wouldn't cost taxpayers any additional money. But CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield CEO Chet Burrell reached out directly to White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, explaining that insurers would need taxpayer funding from the risk corridor program to offset potentially substantial losses.

He also warned that without any additional money funded through the program, insurers would have to increase premiums by at least 20 percent.

Jarrett allegedly wrote to Burrell, saying "the [White House] policy team is aggressively pursuing options" to resolve his concerns.

A month after Burrell's communication with the White House, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued a rule that lowered the cost threshold at which the government pitches in to pay for overly sick patients from $70,000 to $45,000. CMS said adjusting the risk corridor program would help avoid costly premium hikes, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

The House Oversight Committee report also claimed the White House secretly provided insurers with ACA-related talking points for media appearances while publicly bashing them.

To learn more:
- here's the report