Democratic furor continued over the recent Bush administration estimate of a $534 billion price tag for the Medicare reform law -- $139 billion more than an earlier Congressional Budget Office estimate. Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) introduced a bill that would require the CMS to provide Congress with access to information and estimates from the agency's actuaries. Democrats have asked when the Bush administration knew of the $534 billion estimate since it became public last month. The Medicare reform legislation was passed by Congress in November 2003 at a time when the only publicly available government estimate of its costs was the CBO's. Baucus said that the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 established the Office of the Actuary within the CMS to provide Congress with "cost and other data as requested, (but) a free flow of information has not occurred -- particularly over the past year." Earlier this week, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson told a House panel that the $534 billion estimate was not calculated until late December. -- by Tony Fong
Fallout continues from new Medicare cost estimate
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