DENVER—Sen. Mark Udall pressured Colorado regulators to downsize an estimate showing that nearly 250,000 Coloradans had received insurance cancellation notices, according to documents obtained by Complete Colorado.
Jo Donlin, director of external affairs for the state Department of Regulatory Agencies’ Division of Insurance, says in an email that the Democratic senator had challenged the department’s figures, which Donlin insists are correct.
“Sen. Udall says our numbers were wrong. They are not wrong. Cancellation notices affected 249,199 people. They want to trash our numbers. I’m holding strong while we get more details. Many have already done early renewals. Regardless, they received cancellation notices,” says the Nov. 14 email.
The next day, Donlin sent an explanation for the figures to Udall’s staff, followed by an email to staffers at the Division of Insurance, including Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar, and the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper.
“Following my e-mail, I received a very hostile phone call from Udall’s deputy chief of staff. Marguerite is on the phone with [Udall's] chief of staff right now. Happy Friday!” said the email.
The explosive email traffic, included in a Wednesday report by Complete Colorado’s Todd Shepherd, indicates that Udall was desperate to disprove the 250,000 figure in the face of an enormous public backlash against the Obamacare rollout.
Udall, who’s facing reelection in November, has seen his poll numbers sink in the wake of negative publicity surrounding the Affordable Care Act.
In another Nov. 14 email, Udall legislative director Joe Britton expressed concern over the media attention on the cancelled policies.
“We need to move on this ASAP – or we’ll be forced to challenge the 249K number ourselves. It is wildly off or at least very misleading and reporters keep repeating it,” says Britton.
In December, Politifact gave the “Lie of the Year” award to the claim that Americans could keep their health-insurance plans under Obamacare, a statement made by President Obama and a number of Senate Democrats, including Udall.
The Republican National Committee released radio ads Tuesday targeting Udall and other Senate Democrats seeking reelection who voted for Obamacare.