Issa and Farenthold Probe Census Revisions to Healthcare Coverage Rate

April 17, 2014

WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, U.S. Postal Service & The Census Chairman Blake Farenthold (R-TX) today questioned the U.S. Census Bureau on major revisions to the Current Population Survey (CPS) questions related to health insurance coverage.  According to a recent news report, beginning in February 2014, CPS questions concerning the nationwide uninsured rate will differ significantly from previous years.  New Census survey findings will no longer be comparable with data from previous years to measure the effect of the Affordable Care Act on the uninsured rate.

“A two-percent adjustment in the nationwide uninsured rate would represent a change in status for six million Americans and could be used in misleading arguments about the coverage impact of the Affordable Care Act,” Chairman Issa and Rep. Farenthold state in the letter.

In the letter, Chairman Issa and Rep. Farenthold also note that the Census Bureau did not inform the House Oversight and Government Committee, the Bureau’s authorizing committee, of the implementation of the new questions until after reports appeared in the press.

The letter continues: “Numerous experts from across the political spectrum claim that the Census’s new measure will limit the effectiveness of the survey to measure the effects the Affordable Care Act has had on the number of people with health insurance over time.  We have serious concerns about the timing of this revision given the purported input and approval of officials at the White House and HHS of these revamped survey questions.”

In the letter, Chairman Issa and Rep. Farenthold requested that the Census Bureau provide the following documents by May 1:

  1. All drafts, whether approved or not, and the final text of the revised health insurance coverage-related questions that appear in the February, March, and April 2014 versions of the CPS.
  1. All documents and communications, including emails, in unredacted form between and among employees of the U.S. Census Bureau, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Executive Office of the President, from January 1, 2010 through March 1, 2014 regarding or relating to the implementation of the revised health insurance coverage-related questions.

You can read the letter to U.S. Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson here.

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