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Capitol Health Call
April 14, 2004

Medicare Law Investigated

JAMA. 2004;291(14):1690. doi:10.1001/jama.291.14.1690-b

Two probes into the contentious passage last year of a Medicare prescription benefit plan have sullied the law and sparked intense feuding on Capitol Hill.

First, the inspector general's office of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is looking into why estimated costs of the bill calculated by the CMS were withheld from lawmakers. The CMS's Actuary Richard Foster said that last spring he calculated the cost of the Medicare plan to be $534 billion over 10 years, but was told by former CMS head Tom Scully to withhold the information from democratic legislators who requested it. The Congressional Budget Office had arrived at a sum of $400 billion, the figure used exclusively in the Congressional debate.