The surprisingly exciting life of Medicare's chief actuary
The CMS report that's caused House Democrats some trouble this week was authored by Richard Foster, the chief actuary of Medicare. But this isn't the first time he's prepared a troubling report on a major new program. In 2003, when Republicans were forging ahead on the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, Foster wrote an analysis suggesting that the bill would cost $534 billion over the first 10 years -- quite a bit more than the $394 billion estimate by the Congressional Budget Office. He handed his report over to the White House, the OMB and the Department of Health and Human Services. And that's where it died.
As we learned later, Tom Scully, the Bush-appointed head of CMS, told Foster that he'd lose his job if he released that report. Despite believing the demand was "inappropriate" and "unethical," Foster, after consulting with an HHS lawyer who told him that Scully could indeed make good on his threat, buried the report.
Say what you will about the Democrats this year, but compared with the Medicare Part D process (remember the shenanigans of the House vote that literally led ethics investigations against Tom DeLay?), health-care reform has been a model of good government.
(Thanks to Jon Perr for reminding me of Foster's history.)
Photo credit: Thomas Rangel/AP.
November 17, 2009; 11:11 AM ET
Categories: Health Reform
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