U.S. Senators Ask HHS To Review California Exchange Disclosure
On Friday, five Republican U.S. senators said they have sent a letter to HHS asking the agency to investigate California's policies to conceal certain records related to its state health insurance exchange, the AP/U-T San Diego reports (Olson, AP/U-T San Diego, 6/7).
Bids for government contracts are routinely kept secret until contracts are awarded so that one vendor cannot gain an unfair advantage during the bidding process.
However, California lawmakers have given the exchange board the authority to keep all contracts from being disclosed to the public for one year and to conceal the amounts paid for such contracts indefinitely.
The exchange -- known as Covered California -- also can keep private any records related to recommendations or research, among other topics.
According to an AP review of 16 other states that have chosen to run their own health insurance exchanges, California is the most restrictive about what exchange information is required to be made public.
California Sens. Bill Emmerson (R-Redlands) and Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) are promoting legislation (SB 332) that would strip authority from the state to conceal certain health insurance exchange records (California Healthline, 5/21).
Details of Letter
The senators who signed the letter are:
- Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.);
- Richard Burr (R-N.C.);
- Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.);
- Pat Roberts (R-Kan.); and
- Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
According to the letter, California should publicly account for the federal funding it receives to develop and operate Covered California.
The senators wrote, "We see no reason why a state that has been awarded nearly $910 million in federal taxpayer dollars should not disclose how that money is being spent once a contract is finalized."
The lawmakers also asked HHS to investigate whether any other states are concealing details of exchange contracts.Joanne Peters -- an HHS spokesperson -- said that the agency has received the letter and is reviewing it (AP/U-T San Diego, 6/7). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.