Medicare Actuary: Story Being Pushed By Republicans About Delayed Health Care Analysis Is False

Apr 27, 2010 4:38pm

“That story’s not true,” Richard Foster, the chief actuary for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told ABC News.

Foster was responding to a blog item in the conservative American Spectator, pushed to reporters by House Republican aides, claiming that Foster’s less-than-glowing analysis of the  health care reform law – had “been submitted to the office of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the Congressional votes on the bill, according to career HHS sources, who added that Sebelius's staff refused to review the document before the vote was taken.”

The blog, written anonymously, goes on to quote an unnamed source – purportedly one who works at the Department of Health and Human Services, saying “the reason we were given was that they did not want to influence the vote. Which is actually the point of having a review like this, you would think We know a copy was sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff. 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."

Foster says the report is completely false.

“I have no idea how that rumor got started, but it’s completely unfounded,” he says.

Foster tells ABC News that he received a copy of the bill on March 18, and knew then that he wouldn’t be able to do a thorough analysis of it before the vote.  He informed Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, about that fact in a letter on March 20.

“We could not have given anything to them the week before the bill was held,” as the Spectator item claimed, Foster said, because he didn’t receive the bill until March 18.

The House passed the Senate Democrats’ health care reform bill on Sunday night, March 21, as well as “fixes” to the bill.

Four days later, on March 25, Senate Democrats passed the fixes.

Foster’s analysis, which we covered last week, said that he thought the increased demand for health care reform services from so many new patients will tax “existing providers resources and could lead to price increases, cost-shifting, and/or changes in providers’ willingness to treat patients with low-reimbursement health coverage.” He also said that provisions in the law meant to get federal health spending into the black would be “outweighed by the increased costs” until beyond 2020.

-jpt

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