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View Full Version : GAO: Ex-Medicare Chief Should Repay Salary


IJ Reilly
Sep 7, 2004, 08:14 PM
WASHINGTON - The former Medicare administrator should repay his government salary because of his efforts to keep higher estimates of the cost of a prescription drug plan from Congress last year, congressional investigators said Tuesday.

The recommendation from the Government Accountability Office reignited the controversy over the passage of the Medicare overhaul and questions about whether the Bush administration intentionally concealed its own estimates of the cost $100 billion more than the $400 billion it acknowledged to win support from conservative Republicans.

The release of the report follows last week's announcement that Medicare premiums for non-hospital care will rise a record $11.60 a month next year, which administration officials said was partly attributable to provisions of the new law.

Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry (news - web sites) linked the concealment and premium increase in an appeal to older voters. "The Bush administration broke the law by covering up the true cost of their phony Medicare bill, and George W. Bush broke his promise to seniors in his convention speech when he told them Medicare was sound and then increased premiums by a record 17 percent the very next day," Kerry said.

Bill Pierce, a Health and Human Services (news - web sites) Department spokesman, said Democratic criticism of the prescription drug law is politically motivated. Pierce called on Democrats "to focus on the health of seniors instead."

The Associated Press reported last year that Thomas Scully, the Medicare chief until December, threatened to fire chief Medicare actuary Richard Foster to prevent him from giving the information to lawmakers.

Federal law prohibits a federal agency from paying the salary of an official who prevents another federal employee from communicating with Congress, GAO said.

"Because HHS was prohibited from paying Mr. Scully's salary after he barred Mr. Foster from communicating with Congress, HHS should consider such payments improper," GAO general counsel Anthony Gamboa wrote in a report to Democratic senators who requested it. "Therefore, we recommend that HHS seek to recover these payments."

An earlier report from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service also concluded that the administration was wrong to keep the information from Congress.

Scully, who now works for a law firm and investment bank, said GAO never interviewed him. Asked whether he would return any of his salary, Scully said, "I'm not sure that's relevant. It's not up to GAO anyway."

Pierce said HHS will not ask Scully to return his salary. "We fundamentally disagree," with GAO, Pierce said.

The administration argued in a July report that no laws were broken. Scully "has the final authority to determine the flow of information to Congress," the HHS inspector general's office said.

The administration has adamantly refused to release Foster's estimates, even since the law's enactment in December. House Democrats have sued for the documents in federal court. The Associated Press, which sought the same materials under the Freedom of Information Act, received 13 pages that had previously been made public.

The administration withheld another 150 pages that HHS acknowledged are responsive to the AP's request.

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=512&ncid=703&e=8&u=/ap/20040908/ap_on_go_co/medicare_costs

IJ Reilly
Sep 8, 2004, 10:47 AM
I'm going to pop this story back to the top of the list with the hope that more interest will be taken in reading and commenting on it. We do remember what this is about, don't we?

themadchemist
Sep 8, 2004, 12:45 PM
This is one of myriad deceptions on the part of the Bush administration. I want to see an ad from Kerry going on attack...Point by point: The Bush administration said/did X. They lied. The Bush administration said/did Y. They lied.

These people need to be exposed widely before the American people; this administration has been nothing but obfuscation and concealment. It is time for change.

IJ Reilly
Sep 8, 2004, 01:56 PM
Somebody remembers. Thank you. I almost feel better.

mactastic
Sep 8, 2004, 06:35 PM
This will be held up in court for so long that it will have little effect on November. The real problem here is that the people who should be most pissed about this are the fiscal conservatives in the GOP, who as I understand it, were the ones who were severly misled about the costs. Probably most of the Dems who voted for this wouldn't have had such qualms about a little more federal spending. But the fiscal conservatives had to be convinced that the costs wouldn't be out of control. They are the ones who should feel used here, but I don't hear many of them complaining because of party loyalty.

Can you even imagine the racous din from the right if a Pres. Kerry had 'misunderestimated' an entitlement program's cost be so much? Rush and Hannity et al. would be pillorying him every day. As it is, the silence is deafening.

~kilroy~
Sep 8, 2004, 07:08 PM
Amazing.

Chip NoVaMac
Sep 9, 2004, 04:03 PM
This is one of myriad deceptions on the part of the Bush administration. I want to see an ad from Kerry going on attack...Point by point: The Bush administration said/did X. They lied. The Bush administration said/did Y. They lied.

These people need to be exposed widely before the American people; this administration has been nothing but obfuscation and concealment. It is time for change.

And where is the blame for AARP's support of the bill?

I am loosing faith in people to demand and get from the politicians what they promise us to get our votes.

themadchemist
Sep 9, 2004, 04:46 PM
And where is the blame for AARP's support of the bill?

I am loosing faith in people to demand and get from the politicians what they promise us to get our votes.

The AARP was guided incorrectly in supporting the bill. I'm not saying that it should have, but it did so based on bad information.

My outrage isn't at the administration having a bad plan; that might be enough to lose my vote, but I respect that it's an honest difference of opinion. I might declare that I think that that opinion is ridiculous, but it doesn't mean that it's not a valid opinion for people coming from a certain perspective.

What is invalid is to provide misinformation and to base action and lobbying on such misinformation knowingly. The Bush administration did it (to a significant degree) with Iraq and they have done it with Medicare. Coupled with other significant cases of misinformation and mishandling of information, I see a dangerous pattern that no one can endorse on either side of the aisle.

Even if you support this bill, you cannot endorse the provision of inaccurate information to bolster its appeal. This is unethical and not the kind of lack of ethics that is harmless or irrelevant to the Office of the President (think: Clinton) but the kind that reduces the credibility of that office (think: Nixon, Harding, etc.) and injures the strength and moral authority of the nation (think: Coolidge, Hoover, in my opinion Reagan, etc.).