Thousands Demand Money Back From Bush-hmo Scandal

WASHINGTON — More than 5,500 people organized by the Institute for America’s Future and TomPaine.com today demanded that Congress take back the money the Bush Administration funneled to HMOs in the new prescription drug law. President Bush’s new Medicare law gives HMOs $46 billion — 3 times the amount the Bush Administration promised. The number of people signing up at www.TakeBackMedicare.org surged in response to today’s news that the White House is covering up information about the size of HMO payments in the new Medicare law.

The White House today refused to allow President Bush’s chief health-policy adviser, Douglas Badger, to testify before Congress about hiding early Medicare cost estimates that are far more costly than lawmakers were told before they voted for it. The White House used the same argument to keep National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice from testifying publicly before the commission investigating the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Institute for America’s Future Co-director Roger Hickey noted that there’s a dangerous White House pattern emerging here.

“The White House’s standard operating procedure is to deal, deceive and dodge at home and abroad,” said Hickey. “People in America need affordable prescription drugs — not a taxpayer funded $50 billion secret handout to HMOs.”

Badger last year allegedly led the White House suppression of figures that showed President Bush’s new prescription drug law would cost more than $500 billion over 10 years. Lawmakers narrowly passed the measure in November relying on cost estimates the White House knew were incorrect.

Senior Bush Administration official Thomas Scully threatened to fire chief actuary Richard Foster if Foster shared the real cost with lawmakers. Foster said that Badger, Scully and other Bush Administration officials received his June estimate that the program would cost $511 billion largely due to HMO subsidies, in testimony last week before the House Ways and Means Committee.

# # #