CRS: Witholding Medicare data was illegal

Sunday, May 16, 2004

May 17, 2004

WASHINGTON - Nonpartisan congressional analysts said the Bush administration apparently broke the law by refusing to disclose a cost analysis of the Medicare Prescription Drug Act.
In a report issued by the Congressional Research Service, the analysts wrote, “Congress’s right to receive truthful information from federal agencies to assist in its legislative functions is clear and unassailable,”  according to an account in the Wall Street Journal on May 4.
The CRS provides its reports directly to members of Congress and does not make them available on its Web site.
The cost analysis prepared by Medicare’s chief actuary, Richard Foster, showed that the Medicare Prescription Drug Act would cost $100 billion more than the $400 billion price tag bandied about before the bill’s passage. Foster claimed that CMS Adminstrator Tom Scully threatened to fire him if he revealed the inflated price of the bill.
Many fiscal conservatives said they would not vote for a measure that exceeded $400 billion. After the bill passed, the Bush administration admitted that the new Medicare Drug law was actually going to cost $534 billion.