Politics often determined which congressional requests the CMS' office of the actuary was allowed to answer during the reign of former CMS Administrator Tom Scully, CMS Chief Actuary Richard Foster told the House Ways and Means Committee. Foster said he was ordered by Scully in the summer of 2003 to withhold Medicare cost estimates for political reasons and that a top CMS attorney advised him it was legal to do so. Scully left the CMS for the private sector in December 2003. The Ways and Means hearing technically was held for the release of the Medicare trustees' annual report, but discussion focused on Foster's allegation that his job was threatened if he disclosed his estimate of the Medicare reform law's cost. Foster ultimately placed the law's 10-year cost at $550 billion, compared with a $395 billion estimate by the Congressional Budget Office. -- by Jeff Tieman
CMS actuary says his office fell victim to politics
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