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Darrell Issa: Obama Administration Pulled a 'Gruber' by Overstating Obamacare Enrollment Data

"...the Jonathan Gruber playbook..."

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. calls on his panel to find former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her previous refusal to answer questions at two hearings probing on whether tea party and conservative political groups had been targeted for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, Thursday, April 10, 2014. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lerner was head of the IRS unit that decides whether to grant tax-exempt status to groups. Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to refer former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution in the agency's tea party controversy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Thursday said the Obama administration needs to explain why it decided to overstate the number of people enrolled in Obamacare, by counting people who only signed up for dental coverage.

Issa accused the Department of Health and Human Services of pulling a play worthy of Jonathan Gruber, the infamous MIT economist who has said Obamacare was written shrewdly to hide its true cost in order to trick people to voting for it and supporting it.

House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif. calls on his panel to find former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her previous refusal to answer questions at two hearings probing on whether tea party and conservative political groups had been targeted for extra scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status, Thursday, April 10, 2014. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Lerner was head of the IRS unit that decides whether to grant tax-exempt status to groups. Yesterday, the House Ways and Means Committee voted to refer former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution in the agency's tea party controversy. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite House Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) on Thursday accused the Obama administration of continuing to play fast and loose with Obamacare data, and purposely padded enrollment numbers. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

"HHS must provide a clear and detailed account of who knew about this decision and when they knew it," Issa said. "This administration still appears to be calling its Obamacare transparency plan from the Jonathan Gruber playbook: dismissing the American public's right to know with the same deceptive arrogance that helped them pass the bill in the first place."

Issa said that in October, his committee asked the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for more clarification about the 7.3 million Americans enrolled under the healthcare law. CMS's reply made it clear that many of those people only had dental care, and didn't have full health insurance as the government was implying.

"Committee staff discovered that nearly 400,000 of the 7.3 million enrollments reported by CMS are stand-alone dental plans, rather than health insurance," Issa's committee said.

That means actual enrollment in Obamacare was just 6.9 million people, under its 7 million target in the first year. The administration originally reported 8 million signups, but hundreds of thousands of those people later dropped out of the plan over the last several months.

"By including nearly 400,000 dental plan enrollments, CMS padded their September figure and obscured the fact that ObamaCare's health plan coverage dropped from an expected 8 million sign-ups in May 2014 to 6.9 million effectuated enrollments in August," the committee said.

Issa said officials seemed to be aware that it was padding the numbers, as they used carefully written language to describe the 7.3 million number. For example, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said that "7.3 million people signed up for marketplace plans," without specifying what kind of plans.

One last thing…
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