Brady and Upton Call on Secretary Burwell to Finally Deliver Answers on Unlawful Funding for Health Program

Will Issue Subpoena if HHS Obstruction Continues
January 15, 2016 — Press Releases   

WASHINGTON, DC – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) wrote to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Burwell seeking information about the Administration’s decision to fund the Basic Health Program (BHP) for more than six months without a congressional appropriation.

In their letter, the Chairmen detail HHS’s record of refusing to provide information to the Committees for their investigation:

On July 28, 2015, Ellen Murray, Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), briefed the Committees on the implementation of the BHP.  On September 21, 2015, the Committees wrote to HHS requesting documents discussed at the briefing.  Your November 13, 2015, response not only failed to provide all requested documents, but also improperly redacted information from the few documents HHS did produce.  Accordingly, on December 3, 2015, the Committees again wrote to you reiterating our request. Once again, HHS has failed to respond to the Committees’ request.”

Because of HHS’s ongoing obstruction in this investigation, the Chairmen wrote that if the Department does not produce the requested documents by January 28, 2016, they will have no choice but to consider issuing a subpoena.

Full text of the letter follows:

The Honorable Sylvia Mathews Burwell
Secretary
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20201

Dear Secretary Burwell:

Pursuant to Rules X and XI of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Energy and Commerce are conducting oversight of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  As part of that oversight, we have been seeking information about the Administration’s decision to fund the Basic Health Program (BHP) without a congressional appropriation for more than six months. We remain deeply concerned about the Administration’s decision, and your agency’s lack of cooperation with this important investigation. We write today to once again ask that you provide information to the Committees.

On July 28, 2015, Ellen Murray, Assistant Secretary for Financial Resources at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), briefed the Committees on the implementation of the BHP.  On September 21, 2015, the Committees wrote to HHS requesting documents discussed at the briefing.  Your November 13, 2015, response not only failed to provide all requested documents, but also improperly redacted information from the few documents HHS did produce.  Accordingly, on December 3, 2015, the Committees again wrote to you reiterating our request.

Once again, HHS has failed to respond to the Committees’ request.  Your delay in producing this material to the Committee has frustrated the Committees’ investigation, and raises serious concerns about your commitment to congressional oversight.  We urge you to comply fully with this request by immediately producing all responsive documents to the Committees without redactions.  If the Department does not produce the requested documents by January 28, 2016, we will have no choice but to consider the use of the compulsory process.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Tegan Gelfand and Meinan Goto of the Committee on Ways and Means staff at (202) 225-5522 and Jessica Donlon of the Committee on Energy and Commerce staff at (202) 225-5074.