Citizens group files FOIA on HHS health care gag order
A federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has been filed by a citizens activist group seeking the rest of the story behind the recent gag order issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services against health insurance companies to prevent them from providing customers with information about Obamacare.
Let Freedom Ring has posted the text of its FOIA request on its web site. The key graph reads:
“Pursuant to the Federal Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552, I request access to and copies of all correspondence, notes, emails, faxes, telephone logs, office visit logs, records of meetings and related documents exchanged between United States Senator Max Baucus' office and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (CMS) directly or indirectly related to a letter that Humana, Inc. sent to its Medicare Advantage policyholders suggesting that proposed health-care legislation could lower their benefits.”
When Congress passed the FOIA in 1966, it exempted itself from coverage. But executive branch departments like HHS are covered and thus cannot withhold documents such as letters or memos from members of the Baucus legislative staff to department officiais.
Here's the Examiner's initial Beltway Confidential post on this issue, which appeared Sept. 28. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell distilled what is at stake in the situation:
“This episode should be of serious concern to millions of seniors on Medicare who deserve to know what the government has in mind for their health care. But it should also frighten anyone who cherishes their First Amendment right to free speech — whether in Louisville, Helena, San Francisco or anywhere else.”
Senate Republicans have vowed to not allow any Obama appointees to be moved to confirmation until the HHS gag order is withdrawn.