WASHINGTON – Longtime Medicare actuary Richard Foster (search) accused his boss at the Health and Human Services Department of forcing him to withhold from Democratic lawmakers estimates he compiled for last year's debate on the cost of the Medicare prescription drug bill.
Testifying Wednesday to the House Ways and Means Committee, Foster said he considered former Medicare Administrator Thomas Scully's (search) decisions to release some information and not the rest was "inappropriate and unethical."
Scully, a political appointee, was unavailable to respond to the charge, but in the past has denied acting improperly.
One month after President Bush signed the Medicare bill into law, the White House announced the prescription drug benefit will likely cost $134 billion more than the Congressional Budget Office (search) projected.
Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson has ordered the HHS inspector general to investigate whether Foster was intimidated into not revealing any estimates. But, a Department spokesman said no impropriety occurred.
"The law requires lawmakers to follow CBO numbers and the CBO scored this bill at $395 billion, and they still score it today at $395 billion," spokesman Kevin Keane said.
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