Lawmakers Prod White House To Release Health Reform Deal Documents
A group of Republicans and Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who chairs the Energy and Commerce committee, are prodding the White House to release documents detailing agreements cut with industry groups in exchange for their support for health reform, The Christian Science Monitor reports. "Those agreements never released in any detail set markers for Congress's work on healthcare, which many lawmakers felt bound to respect." Michael Burgess, R-Texas, one of the committee members seeking the documents, speculates, "Was this a payoff to the insurance industry?" (Chaddock, 1/27).
"The rising tide of anger against those industry-endorsed pacts - coupled with voters' frustration about other last-minute concessions party leaders made to wavering Democrats - helped propel Republican Scott Brown to the Senate in Massachusetts in a shocking result that has imperiled health care reform on Capitol Hill," Politico reports. Waxman agreed to help the GOP effort to get a list of meetings, and documentation of communication between industry leaders and health department officials, but not communications among the president, his top aides and industry leaders, as the Republicans initially requested (O'Connor, 1/28).
"A House panel on Wednesday rejected a Republican bid to force the White House to release records on all private meetings with health care industry groups as Democrats crafted the health care overhaul," but Waxman agreed afterward to assist the Republicans through a letter instead of the resolution they sought, The Washington Times reports. The resolution included the broader scope of inquiry which Waxman rejected (Haberkorn, 1/28).
Another set of House Republicans sent President Barack Obama a letter just hours before his State of the Union address Wednesday, The New York Times reports, reminding him of his promises to make health care negotiations public. "'We ask you to again make clear to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Reid that you will not sign a health care bill crafted in a backroom deal,' they wrote, adding: 'Republicans firmly support changing the way Congress works and giving the American people the access to the health care debate you promised and that they deserve'" (Herszenhorn, 1/27).