For months, the co-ops had banked on receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government through the ACA’s “risk corridor” program. They would soon learn that only a fraction of that money was actually on its way. The decision would drive eight co-ops out of business and cripple several others, attracting national attention and sparking congressional investigations. More than a half-million people would suddenly need to find new health insurance.
Yet as they touched down in Denver for a pair of meetings with CMS officials, the co-op CEOs held out hope. The CO-OP program was already built to fail, co-op executives, former CMS employees and others close to the process told SNL, thanks to a combination of partisan politics and government mismanagement. What could have been one of the more innovative concepts to emerge from the ACA was fast becoming a taxpayer-backed albatross. The risk corridor payments would at least stave off a complete collapse and quiet the growing belief that the Obama administration that birthed the CO-OP program five years ago was now quietly trying to kill it.