HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
Following release of an official report that estimates “Obamacare” will cost $311 billion more than advertised and could force 14 million Americans off their employer-provided insurance, a new allegation has surfaced that the White House knew of the unflattering analysis weeks before the health-care bill was passed and intentionally hid it from Congress.
According to a controversial article in the American Spectator, the Medicare and Medicaid Office of the Actuary delivered the damning report to the Department of Health and Human Services weeks before Congress voted on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, but HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius refused to review it until after the vote.
“The reason we were given was that they did not want to influence the vote,” an unnamed HHS source reportedly told American Spectator.
“We know a copy was sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff,” the HHS staffer reportedly said, “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 quotes were quickly picked up by FoxNews.com, BigGovernment.com, blogs and even radio host Rush Limbaugh:
“So everybody knew. Everybody knew that Obamacare would ratchet up the cost. That news was suppressed,” Limbaugh said on his show yesterday. “Sebelius didn’t want to read it on purpose, saying she ‘didn’t want to affect the vote.'”
The Spectator article, however, has come under heavy criticism and its charges have been flatly denied.
Richard Foster, chief actuary of the office that produced the report, told WND the Spectator article “is completely inaccurate.”
“We began working on the reconciliation bill for the health-reform legislation once it was publicly issued on March 18 – three days before the House vote took place on March 21,” Foster said in a statement. “Because of the details and complexity of the legislation, it wasn’t possible to estimate the package before the Senate vote. We began work on the estimates right away, but we didn’t finalize them until the afternoon of April 22.
“We finished our memorandum on the health-reform act later that same day and immediately sent it to those individuals and organizations that had requested it, including congressional staff, HHS staff and media representatives,” he concluded. “Consistent with the Office of the Actuary’s longstanding independent role on behalf of Congress, we did not seek approval or clearance from HHS (or anyone else) before issuing our analysis.”
Foster also sent a letter only days before the critical health-care vote in the House to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell explaining there was no way the actuaries could complete their analysis before the critical March 21, 2010, deadline.
“My staff and I will not be able to prepare our analysis within this very tight time frame, due to the complexity of the legislation,” Foster wrote.
Senate Republicans confirm that the actuaries had completed a separate analysis on the Senate’s version of health-care-reform legislation on Jan. 8, 2010, but that analysis has been distributed to the public.
Regardless of whether actuaries sent the White House a secret, hidden report before the vote or not, the memo released last week wasn’t good news for champions of government health-care reform. According to a FoxNews analysis of the April 22 report released by Foster’s office:
- Fourteen million Americans could lose their health-care benefits, because employers will find it less expensive to pay government fines than to pay for employee coverage;
- Under “Obamacare,” national health spending will increase by $310.8 billion over the next 10 years, $89 billion more than previously thought;
- Eighteen million people without insurance would be forced into Medicaid coverage for the poor, but Medicaid reimburses so poorly, many doctors and hospitals won’t accept it;
- The new legislation means an additional $100 billion cut into Medicare, for a total of $575 billion less in funding.
Video of the analysis from Fox News Channel’s “Special Report w/Bret Baier” can be seen below: