UPDATE: The Colorado Independent takes a look at Rep. Cory Gardner and his political maneuvers around Obamacare, and includes a link to today's House Committee hearing in which Gardner tries desperately to get insurance executives to answer his questions in the most anti-Obamacare fashion possible. You can see from Gardner's five minutes of questioning below that he is growing increasingly frustrated that he's getting unexpected answers to his questions (if the video doesn't cue up for you, fast-forward to the 1:32:53 mark):
The panel of insurance providers seems genuinely confused about what Gardner is asking them, since most of their replies are along the lines of, "We don't have that information." This isn't just a dodge to the question — one executive tries to explain to Gardner that the statistics he seeks come from the health exchanges themselves. Gardner then shifts tactics to ask the executives to offer up numbers "off the top of their head" on the number of insurance plans cancelled. Off the top of your head??? Way to get to the bottom of this, Scooby Doo.
Gardner's final question in the clip above is about whether it was Obamacare or the policy of the individual companies that prompted sending out "massive cancellation notices." The answers from the group are about letters of cancellation (most of which included offers to renew with a similar plan), and not about actual policy cancellation numbers, but a frustrated Gardner just talks over them and says , "So, Obamacare required the cancellations." Uh, no, that's not what the man said, nor is that the question you asked, Congressman. But if you can't get people to say what you want — just put words in their mouth!
We've said many times in this space that it would be foolish for Republicans to hope that they could win big in November based on Obamacare alone. Republicans have been railing on Obamacare virtually non-stop going on five years now, and without any sort of viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act — and with enrollment and uninsured numbers starting to show significant progress — Republican attacks are increasingly sounding very hollow.
As Elise Viebeck reports for The Hill today, an anti-Obamacare hearing before the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations (of which Colorado Congressman Cory Gardner is a member) turned into a complete disaster when Republicans weren't getting the answers they were fishing for:
Republicans were visibly exasperated, as insurers failed to confirm certain claims about ObamaCare, such as the committee's allegation that one-third of federal exchange enrollees have not paid their first premium. Four out of five companies represented said more than 80 percent of their new customers had paid. The fifth, Cigna, did not offer an estimate. [Pols emphasis]
Republicans also stumbled in asking insurers to detail next year's premium rates. Companies are still in the process of calculating prices, and they have a strong financial incentive not to air early projections in public…
…The back-and-forth underscores the growing divide between Republicans and the insurance industry over the healthcare law. Insurers have worked hard to make the Affordable Care Act's exchanges successful and are expected to substantially increase their participation in the system over time.
That has estranged the industry from Republican critics of the law and created an uneasy alliance between health insurance companies and the White House.