The American Spectator’s Prowler reports that the White House had a report showing that ObamaCare would increase costs for more than a week before Congress passed the bill. Their source in Health and Human Services says that Kathleen Sebelius deliberately withheld the information from Congress in order to keep the vote from getting derailed. HHS released the report from the actuary much too late for it to do any good:
The economic report released last week by Health and Human Services, which indicated that President Barack Obama’s health care “reform” law would actually increase the cost of health care and impose higher costs on consumers, had been submitted to the office of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the Congressional votes on the bill, according to career HHS sources, who added that Sebelius’s staff refused to review the document before the vote was taken.
“The reason we were given was that they did not want to influence the vote,” says an HHS source. “Which is actually the point of having a review like this, you would think.”
According to their source, Sebelius wasn’t alone in keeping the information secret:
“We know a copy was sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff,” says the HHS staffer, “and there were a number of meetings here almost right after the analysis was submitted to the secretary’s office. Everyone went into lockdown, and people here were too scared to go public with the report.”
The report in question got published late last week, a month after the vote in Congress and Barack Obama’s signing of the bill into law. It offered a particularly gloomy assessment of the impact of ObamaCare, as we noted when it finally saw the light of day:
But the analysis also found that the law falls short of the president’s twin goal of controlling runaway costs. It also warned that Medicare cuts may be unrealistic and unsustainable, driving about 15% of hospitals into the red and “possibly jeopardizing access” to care for seniors. …
The report acknowledged that some of the cost-control measures in the bill — Medicare cuts, a tax on high-cost insurance and a commission to seek ongoing Medicare savings — could help reduce the rate of cost increases beyond 2020. But it held out little hope for progress in the first decade.
“During 2010-2019, however, these effects would be outweighed by the increased costs associated with the expansions of health insurance coverage,” wrote Richard S. Foster, Medicare’s chief actuary. “Also, the longer-term viability of the Medicare … reductions is doubtful.” Foster’s office is responsible for long-range costs estimates.
If the Obama administration had this information before the vote — and it should be noted that this comes from a single, anonymous source — then it deliberately misled Congress on the cost estimates. That may not be a crime, but it’s highly unethical at the least, and makes Barack Obama’s claims to operate with transparency absolutely laughable, if true. As the Prowler’s source points out, the entire reason CMS provided an analysis was to ensure that everyone knew the ramifications of passing this legislation. Deliberately withholding it would have stripped Congress of that transparency, if that’s indeed what happened.
A Congress interested in maintaining the separation of powers under the Constitution would consider that an affront. Unfortunately, that’s not the kind of Congress we have at the moment. A credible inquiry into what the White House knew about the CMS actuarial analysis and when they knew it will require a much different Congress in 2011 … which the voters have an opportunity to provide in November.
Update: Yid with Lid tips me that the director of the CMS, Richard Forster, has denied this report, according to Fox News.
Update II: Forster denies the report in an interview with Jake Tapper at ABC as well.