(Bloomberg) -- Gary Cohen, the top U.S. health insurance regulator accused by congressional Republicans of misleading them before the troubled start of the Obamacare insurance website, will resign.
Cohen will step down as director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the end of the month, when the first enrollment period for the health care law concludes, Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Cohen’s boss, said yesterday in an e-mail to employees. Cohen’s office is part of Tavenner’s agency.
Cohen’s departure is voluntary, Tavenner said. His agency devised the regulations for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges, though it wasn’t responsible for building healthcare.gov, the federal exchange that failed in October, leaving millions of Americans unable to enroll in health plans. Cohen’s office also monitors insurers’ premiums and enforces consumer protections under the health law.
“Under his leadership, CCIIO established the rules which have made the promise of the Affordable Care Act a reality for millions of Americans who now can have the security of health coverage without regard to their previous health condition, and can know that their insurance will cover all the most common services they will need,” Tavenner said.
Cohen will be replaced on an interim basis by Mandy Cohen, a medical doctor who manages consumer assistance for the agency, Tavenner said. Cohen’s departure was reported earlier by Politico.
Representative Michael Burgess, a Texas Republican, told the U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during a hearing October 30 that she should ask for Cohen’s resignation. He had “misled” Congress in testimony prior to the October 1 opening of the federal health insurance exchange website, Burgess said, by insisting that any problems would be minor and the project was largely on schedule.
Sebelius refused, telling lawmakers to “hold me accountable” for healthcare.gov’s failures.
Cohen was an attorney, an insurance executive and an insurance regulator in California before taking over the federal agency in August 2012. Tavenner’s e-mail was silent on Cohen’s future, saying only that he would “return home.” Cohen didn’t respond to an e-mail asking about his plans.
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