WASHINGTON, D.C. – After requesting information and documents for over a year regarding the administration’s unlawful payments to insurance companies, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) today issued subpoenas to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for documents regarding the cost-sharing reduction (CSR) program, part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The committees also each issued subpoenas to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for one document and all drafts that the committees learned about during the course of the investigation. The committees first launched an investigation into this program in February 2015, but the Obama administration has refused to cooperate, repeatedly denying requests for information and documents since that time.
These subpoenas come after repeated and exhaustive requests for HHS to comply. In January 2016, Secretary Burwell agreed during a phone call with Chairman Upton to provide information to the committees on the issue, putting a subpoena on a short-term hold and granting HHS one last chance to provide the requested information and documents. Since that time, HHS has been unwilling to answer the vast majority of the committees’ questions about the program, including in interviews, and has again failed to produce the requested documents, making the subpoenas necessary.
The committee leaders have been concerned that the administration is paying subsidies to insurance companies under Section 1402 of the health care law without a legal appropriation from Congress. These expenditures have totaled more than $5 billion to date and are estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to amount to approximately $170 billion over the next 10 years. The committee leaders first requested documents on February 3, 2015. Committee leaders reiterated their request for documents and information in a July 7, 2015 letter only to be rebuffed for a second time. Upton and Brady again pressed the administration for answers in a December 2015 letter to Secretary Burwell and Secretary Lew, which was again ignored. The subpoenas issued today compel HHS to produce the requested documents by May 18. (A complete timeline is below)
“We’ve gone above and beyond to give the administration every opportunity to comply with our repeated requests for details. Now, 15 months after our first request, we still don’t have the most basic information about the $5 billion in unlawful payments to insurance companies,” said Brady and Upton. “Enough is enough. Complying with Congress is not optional, and the American public deserves the courtesy and respect of cooperation. Our pursuit of the facts and the truth continues.”
Read all of the letters online HERE.
Feb. 3, 2015:
Chairman Upton and Chairman Ryan sent letters to the Departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services requesting documents and information regarding the implementation of the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction program. The letter stated that the committees are concerned that the “administration is unlawfully and unconstitutionally misusing the permanent appropriations intended only to pay for tax refunds.”
Feb. 25, 2015:
Treasury and HHS sent a brief joint response refusing to provide the requested information and documents, because, according to the departments, the letters “relate to matters that are the subject of the House lawsuit.”
July 7, 2015:
The committees sent letters to Treasury and HHS reiterating the February 2, 2015, document request. The letter stated that if the agencies “fail to produce the documents and information, the committees will have no choice but to consider the use of the compulsory process to obtain them.”
July 21, 2015:
Treasury and HHS sent a joint response, again refusing to provide any documents or information regarding the cost-sharing reduction program.
Dec. 2, 2015:
The committees sent letters to Treasury and HHS requesting transcribed interviews of eight total government officials (four from each agency). The letters stated that if the agencies “fail to timely respond or schedule the requested interviews, the committees will have no choice but to resort to compelled process.”
Dec. 18, 2015:
Treasury and HHS sent a joint response. The letter did not address the transcribed interview request, but implicitly denied that request by stating that if the Committees have “any oversight interests that are not being addressed through the litigation, we would be happy to meet with you and your staff to discuss how we might work to accommodate those interests.”
Jan. 19, 2016:
Secretary Burwell pledges to Chairman Upton on a phone call to make a senior HHS official available for a briefing.
Jan. 20, 2016:
The committees issued subpoenas to the Department of the Treasury for documents related to the CSR program. To date, the Treasury has produced lass than 35 pages to the committees in response to the subpoenas.
March 3, 2016:
HHS makes its first production of documents to the committees. The production consisted entirely of publicly available documents.
March 21, 2016:
HHS produced one additional substantive document to the committees.