Committee Letters Requesting Information On Health Reform Deals Sent To White House And HHS

Letters are the result of January 27th markup of Burgess resolution of inquiry

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Washington, Feb 18, 2010 | comments
House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas), along with Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-California), yesterday sent letters to White House Counsel Robert Bauer and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting information on the secret health reform meetings and negotiations that took place at the White House in May. The letters are a result of the Committee’s intent to ensure transparency and openness in the health reform process.
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House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-Texas) and Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-Texas), along with Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-California), yesterday sent letters to White House Counsel Robert Bauer and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting information on the secret health reform meetings and negotiations that took place at the White House in May. The letters are a result of the Committee’s intent to ensure transparency and openness in the health reform process.

“It is very important that details on any negotiations made behind closed doors are made public and available for all to see. The integrity of the process and of health reform legislation is at stake,” Burgess said. “I would like to thank Chairman Waxman, who has long been an advocate and pursuer of a more open and transparent government, and Ranking Member Barton for working with me to obtain important information about pending health care reform legislation.”

“Dr. Burgess asked the first questions about this last year and got an answer last month in the form of documents best described as warmed over press releases and Web site material,” Barton said. “That’s no answer at all, and I appreciate the bipartisan efforts of Chairman Waxman and Dr. Burgess to get real information that will add some transparency and understanding to the health care talks.”

The transparency effort began in September 2009 when Burgess sent a letter to the White House requesting information on the meetings. After 77 days of silence from the White House and weeks of working with Chairman Waxman to get the information from the White House, Burgess introduced H. Res. 983, a Resolution of Inquiry, on December 16, 2009, again requesting the information. Because the Resolution would become privileged on the House floor if it was not considered by the Committee within 14 legislative days of introduction, Chairman Waxman scheduled a markup of H. Res. 983 for Jan. 27.

Late in the day on Jan. 26, the day before the scheduled markup, Burgess received a response from the White House to his September letter – 119 days after the process began. Noting that the White House response was inadequate, during the Jan. 27 hearing the Committee’s members voted unanimously to report the Burgess Resolution without recommendation, and Waxman and Barton vowed to help Burgess receive much of the requested information.

Below is the text of each letter, which both request a response by March 12, 2010:

February 17, 2010

Robert Bauer
Counsel to the President
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. Bauer:

Thank you for your response to the September 29, 2009, letter request from Rep. Burgess for information relating to meetings held at the White House on health care reform legislation and purported agreements concerning health care reform legislation. We are following up on your January 26, 2010, letter to seek additional information in the interest of transparency.

Pursuant to Rules X and XI of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Committee requests the following documents, to the extent they were not already provided to the Committee with your January 26 letter:

(1) A list of all agreements entered into in writing between the White House and any private party, including individuals, groups, associations, or companies, and the substance of such agreements, relating to any of the following 111th Congress healthcare bills: H.R. 3200, H.R. 3590, H.R. 3961, H.R. 3962, S. 1679, or S. 1796;

(2) The name of any private party, including individuals, groups, associations, or companies, that participated in meetings at the White House during which any agreements described in (1) were negotiated;

(3) The name of any individual serving in a position or office in the White House who attended meetings described above in (2);

(4) The time and date of meetings described in (2);

(5) Any written material memorializing any agreements made during meetings described above in (2) and provided to the meeting participants who are private parties.

We respectfully request that you respond to this letter by March 12, 2010.

Sincerely,

Henry A. Waxman, Chairman
Joe Barton, Ranking Member
Michael Burgess, Member of Congress



February 17, 2010

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary
Department of Health and Human Services
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20201

Dear Madam Secretary:

On January 27, 2010, the Committee on Energy and Commerce met to consider a resolution introduced by Rep. Burgess seeking certain documents from you and the President regarding the negotiation of health care reform legislation. Pursuant to a bipartisan understanding we reached relating to this resolution, we are writing to request certain documents in the interest of transparency.

Pursuant to Rules X and XI of the U.S. House of Representatives, we request production to the Committee of any paper or electronic communications between the Department of Health and Human Services and the health care industry regarding agreements between the White House and any private party, including individuals, groups, associations, or companies, relating to any of the following 111th Congress healthcare bills: H.R. 3200, H.R. 3590, H.R. 3961, H.R. 3962, S. 1679, or S. 1796.

We respectfully request that you respond to this letter by March 12, 2010.

Sincerely,

Henry A. Waxman, Chairman
Joe Barton, Ranking Member
Michael Burgess, Member of Congress
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