- Bush administration officials were wrong
to prevent a budget expert from giving Congress
estimates of the cost of Medicare legislation,
congressional researchers have concluded.
a report made public Monday, the nonpartisan
Congressional Research Service said efforts
to keep Richard Foster, the chief Medicare
actuary, from giving Democratic lawmakers
his projections of the bill's cost -- $100
billion more than the president and other
officials were acknowledging -- probably violated
estimates set the bill's cost at more than
testified in March that he was prevented by
then-Medicare administrator Thomas Scully
from turning over information over to lawmakers.
Scully, in a letter to the House Ways and
Means Committee, said he had told Foster "that
I, as his supervisor, would decide when he
would communicate with Congress."
researchers chided the move. "Such 'gag orders'
have been expressly prohibited by federal
law since 1912," Jack Maskell, a CRS attorney,
wrote in the report.
report was requested by committee Democrats
after majority Republicans refused to subpoena
Scully and White House adviser Doug Badger
to testify about their roles in keeping cost
estimates from lawmakers.
Bill Thomas, R-Calif., the committee chairman,
said he would be willing to issue subpoenas
if laws had been broken.
spokesman for Thomas did not immediately respond
to requests for comment.
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