DENVER (CBS4) – A state lawmaker is calling for an investigation after accusations that Sen. Mark Udall’s office tried to bully a state agency into making the Affordable Care Act roll out look better.
At issue are emails between a Udall staffer and a director at the Division of Insurance over how many Coloradans have lost their health plans.
Republicans claim Udall’s office tried to bully the director into altering the books for political cover in an election year.
The Colorado Division of Insurance announced that 249,000 policies had been cancelled after the Affordable Care Act took effect.
Sen. Mark Udall, like the president, had promised people if they liked their insurance, they could keep it.
A Udall staffer sent an email to the Director of External Affairs at the insurance division demanding she lower the number saying “we need to move on this ASAP or we’ll be forced to challenge the 249,000 numbers ourselves.”
The director responded with an email to the insurance commissioner saying “they want to trash our numbers.”
“It’s completely irresponsible, reprehensible to put pressure on the division of insurance to change numbers,” said Colorado Republican Party Chair, Ryan Call.
Republicans jumped on the emails obtained by the conservative blog, “Complete Colorado.”
They said Udall’s office was trying to intimidate a state agency for political cover. Udall’s press secretary, Mike Saccone, says that’s not true.
“We were concerned because it was radically different from what insurance carriers were telling us,” said Saccone.
Saccone said most of the cancellations offered a one year renewal and that’s why they wanted the number adjusted, not because of politics. He insists they did nothing wrong.
“We did press them on the numbers. Was it intimidation? No,” said Saccone.
The Colorado Insurance Commissioner, Marguerite Salazar, shrugged off the exchange that included what her director called “a hostile phone call” from the staffer.
But state representative Amy Stephens, who’s hoping to unseat Udall, is demanding a state investigation.
“They’re real numbers but more they’re real people and I don’t think that’s a service to the people of Colorado, to put undue pressure on someone to change the numbers,” said Stephens.
While the insurance commissioner didn’t see any problem with what Udall’s staffer did she stand by the number of cancellations saying the 249,000 notices represent families in many cases so the number of people impacted is actually much bigger.