Committee Chairman Wants AHIP, BCBSA Records on ‘Secret’ White House Visits, Health Reform Lobbying
WASHINGTON April 21 (BestWire) — Health insurance trade groups, labor unions and others should turn over records and documents about meetings with White House officials over health reform, committee leaders in the House of Representatives said.
In letters to America’s Health Insurance Plans, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, the Service Employees International Union and other groups, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., asked for “a list of each meeting, briefing or telephone call” and “all notes, minutes, transcripts, documents, summaries or any other written or recorded materials” relating to health reform meetings. They also requested the names of every employee or representative who discussed health reform with “any employee, detailee, or any other representative of the White House Office of Health Reform, the White House or the Department of Health and Human Services.” Also among the multiple documents requested are all estimates or analyses of the effect of health reform legislation on the organizations and its members.
The letters do not carry the weight of subpoenas, but Upton asked recipients to comply within two weeks. The identical letters were also signed by representatives Joe Pitts, R-Pa., chairman of the Health Subcommittee; Michael Burgess, R-Texas, vice chairman of the Health Subcommittee; and Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
“AdvaMed is one of many organizations to receive a request for information on its discussions with the White House regarding health reform by the Energy and Commerce Committee. We are reviewing the request and will comply with it appropriately,” Christopher White, executive vice president and general counsel of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, said in a statement.
An AHIP spokesman declined to comment until the association could develop its response to the committee. The BCBSA did not respond to questions about the letters. Other recipients were the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the Business Roundtable, AARP, the AFL-CIO and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
The committee is pursuing information from those that lobbied on what became the Affordable Care Act because the White House has not responded to its inquiries about “secret health care negotiations,” Upton said in a statement. “As the committee continues pressing the White House to fulfill its pledges for government transparency, the investigation has been broadened to seek documents and records directly from those organizations invited by the White House to help craft the law — behind closed doors, and without input from Congress,” he said.
(By Sean P. Carr, Washington Bureau Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org)BN-NJ-04-21-2011 1650 ET #
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