Granny Rant
Saturday, March 27, 2004
::: Just Another "Bush Knew" Revelation :::

A disgraceful tale of abuse in the Executive, the findings from the Congressional
hearing below turns the stomach of the American people ... including many
Republicans. Taken together with unprecedented, arrogant acts of the Bush
administration ... in violation of the trust we expect to be vested in our leaders,
and in view of credibility issues ... too many to detail ... surrounding the
administration, this presidential candidate looks un-electable.

During testimony this week in Congress, a very nervous Richard S. Foster,
chief Medicare actuary, provided information regarding a 25% to 50% discrepancy
in the cost of the proposed Medicare prescription drug benefit. Foster said the
information was given to the White House last June, but it was not revealed to
Congress for six more months.

Some of the highlights of the House Ways & Means Committee ....
hearing as presented by Robert Pear in The New York Times:

Mr. Foster said he had shared his cost estimates with Doug Badger, the president's special assistant for health policy, and with James C. Capretta, associate director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. But he said that Thomas A. Scully, who was then administrator of the Medicare program, directed him to withhold the information from Congress, citing orders from the White House in one instance.

In testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee, Mr. Foster said he had struggled to preserve the independence and integrity of his office. It was his first public appearance since a furor erupted over his assertions that Mr. Scully threatened to fire him if he disclosed his cost estimates to Congress during debate on the Medicare bill.

Mr. Foster said he had been told to withhold information from lawmakers of both parties. Moreover, he said, Mr. Scully stated that he was "acting under direct White House orders" in telling the actuary not to respond to a request from the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Representative Bill Thomas, Republican of California. Mr. Thomas was a principal architect of the Medicare bill.

An aide to Mr. Scully sent an e-mail message to Mr. Foster on June 20 saying that the actuary would suffer "extremely severe" consequences if he provided Congress with information requested by Mr. Thomas and other lawmakers. [..]

"There's evidence regarding Mr. Scully's comments about acting on direct White House orders," Mr. Foster said. He refused to give details, but said he would provide them to the inspector general at the Department of Health and Human Services, who is conducting an independent investigation. [..]

Mr. Scully denies threatening Mr. Foster, but confirms having told him to withhold certain information from Congress. [..]

Instead of the $400 billion Bush claimed as the cost of the
Medicare bill, Foster's figures ran $500 billion to $600 billion.

Democrats complained that they had been misled. Representative John Tanner, Democrat of Tennessee, said, "Every Republican and Democrat on this committee ought to be outraged at the willful, deliberate, sinister withholding" of information. [..]

Foster's testimony also included an expectation of a 25%
increase in Medicare costs in 2006.

Granny is suitably outraged.

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