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State denies being pressured by Udall staff

5:26 PM, Jan 14, 2014   |    comments
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DENVER - That state is denying allegations that Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall (D) tried to put pressure on health officials to change the number of people who had their health insurance policies canceled because of the national health care overhaul.

The head of the Department of Regulatory Agencies responded Tuesday to separate requests from Congressman Cory Gardner (R) and Rep. Amy Stephens (R) regarding a report on the blog, Complete Colorado.

According to emails obtained and posted on the conservative blog, Jo Donlin of the Colorado Division of Insurance alerted Hickenlooper administration officials in November that Udall staffers claimed state figures on the number of cancelations for Coloradans with health insurance were inflated, and he was pressuring them to change them.

The head of DORA says she investigated the employee's claim and concluded "no evidence of intimidation, and the 'level of coercion by Senator Udall and/or his staff' was zero."

However, she revealed there was a "disagreement among staff about how to characterize the data." DORA said the situation was never acted upon and neither Donlin nor other DORA employees felt threatened.

Representative Stephens released the following statement in regards to DORA's findings:

"The Department of Regulatory Agencies can run interference on behalf of Senator Udall and his abusive staff, if it chooses, but the intimidating emails from Udall's staff speak for themselves. This incident remains unprecedented in Colorado where a United States Senator and his staff attempted to intimidate a state agency to falsify public records to help that Senator's political agenda."

It was reported in November that more than 249,000 Colorado policies were canceled.

The existing health plans were canceled in the wake of changes to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

Democrats have said many of those cancellations came with offers for new health insurance plans, making that number misleading.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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