The Bush administration probably acted illegally in ordering CMS Chief Actuary Richard Foster to withhold from Congress cost estimates for the Medicare reform law, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.
"Congress' right to receive truthful information from federal agencies to assist in its legislative functions is clear and unassailable," the nonpartisan arm of Congress said in its report.
The White House sold the Medicare reform legislation as a $395 billion package while debate was ongoing in Congress. Later the administration raised its cost estimate to $534 billion. Foster had priced the package at about $550 billion but was ordered by former CMS Administrator Tom Scully not to release his estimate.
HHS spokesman William Pierce said the inspector general's office is investigating Scully's actions. The agency is "focused on helping seniors ... looking to the future, not the past," Pierce said.
The administration this week began its campaign to persuade seniors to sign up for Medicare discount drug cards.