Apr 28, 2004

Senate Dems Join Lawsuit Threat

From Congress Daily AM:

Senate Minority Leader Daschle said Tuesday Senate Democrats are ready to join House Democrats to demand that the Bush administration turn over more documents regarding its working estimates of the new Medicare law and communications about those estimates last fall with members of the House-Senate conference committee.

    On Friday, Medicare officials told Democrats on the House Government Reform Committee they would not, as promised earlier, turn over estimates by Medicare’s Office of the Actuary showing consistently higher totals than CBO was estimating for the new law. The administration says the authority cited by the Government Reform Committee does not apply in this case.

    Committee Democrats, led by Government Reform ranking member Henry Waxman, D-Calif., responded Monday by demanding not only the original information, but also details of all communications between the actuary and conferees—many but not all of whom apparently knew of the higher estimates during the deliberations.

    The Democrats have given Medicare officials until May 10 to respond, and a spokeswoman for Waxman said any lawsuit probably would wait until at least a few days after that deadline.

    Daschle, however, appears ready to join a lawsuit if need be. “This is beginning to look more and more like the energy task force,” he told reporters Tuesday. “They were refusing to allow the information on the energy task force, and now we’re in the Supreme Court to find out what was said and who was there. I’d hate to have to go to the Supreme Court a second time.”


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