CORLEONE FAMILY UPDATE….Remember the Medicare actuary who was ordered to shut up about his cost estimate for the administration’s Medicare bill? Knight Ridder finally managed to talk to him directly today and he confirmed the whole story:

Richard Foster, the chief actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said Friday night that he received a handwritten note from [Thomas] Scully, then the centers’ administrator, in early June ordering him to ignore information requests from members of Congress who were drafting the drug bill.

….The note was Scully’s first threat in writing, Foster said, and came after at least three less formal threats. They “came in different forms,” he said. “Sometimes he would make a comment that ‘I think I need another chief actuary,’ or ‘If you want to work for the Ways and Means Committee (which was drafting the bill) I can arrange it.’ It was that sort of thing.”

Bill Frist’s spokesman said, “If an individual’s job was threatened and if they were trying to shield information from Congress, that could be an issue of concern.”

Ah, yes, an “issue of concern.” I suppose it would be at that, wouldn’t it?

UPDATE: In comments, dbc points to this AP story that ran last year while all this was happening. Apparently the higher cost estimate wasn’t the only reason Scully didn’t want Foster’s analysis released. It was the reason for the higher estimate:

An earlier analysis [by Foster] suggested that a Republican plan to inject market forces into Medicare could increase premiums for those who stay in traditional programs by as much as 25 percent. If that’s still the case, it could help Democrats who argue that the GOP plan is risky for those who want to stay in traditional Medicare, where they can pick any doctor, rather than move to a managed care plan.

….”The administration is resisting the release of it because it’s not good news for the Republican House plan,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

No, not good news at all. But we wouldn’t want to let the facts get in the way of ideology, would we?

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