Over 50% of ACA insurance co-ops have closed

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Twelve of the original 23 nonprofit health insurance co-ops formed under the Affordable Care Act have shut down since the beginning of 2014, according to The Washington Post.

Just this fall, nine of the 12 co-ops have closed.

The collapses affect coverage for the 740,000 individuals and small business employees who were covered through the co-ops.

At a Nov. 3 hearing of a House Ways and Means subcommittee, Republicans said the Obama administration is wasting taxpayer funds on the failing co-ops. "A model that is wrong isn't going to succeed," said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the subcommittee's chairman.

Democrats blamed the shutdowns on a number of GOP-forced budget cuts. Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said the GOP has "weakened and undermined the co-ops at every turn."

Michigan's co-op, Consumers Mutual Insurance, is the most recent to shut down. The co-op closed rather abruptly, making it the first to leave the marketplace without any public closure announcement. On Nov. 3, a notice on the Consumers Mutual Insurance website informed viewers that it will not sell coverage in 2016. The co-op covered 27,500 members, almost 6,000 of whom received coverage through HealthCare.gov.

Though regulators ordered Arizona to shut down its co-op Oct. 30, the co-op is resisting the order. Tom Zumtobel, CEO of Meritus Health Partners, said the co-op is "still assessing our options" and hoping to get back on the exchange.

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