APRIL 05, 2011
The federal agency that has secretly granted hundreds of Obamacarewaivers to the president’s allies is refusing to provide congressional investigators with crucial data to eliminate waste and fraud in government disability programs.Each year the government doles out billions of dollars in benefits and a chunk of the money goes to unscrupulous people who become employed while fraudulently collecting federal disability checks. To root out the corruption, lawmakers say the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of congress, needs records from the Health and Human Services Department.The data the GAO is seeking would help congressional investigators match the names of people getting disability payments against a list of newly hired workers since its illegal for healthy, employed people to collect disability on top of a paycheck. The Health Department maintains the database but refuses to make the information available, even though it could save the government large sums of money.Additionally Obama’s Health Department has ordered states, which provide the agency with the information, not to comply with the request. A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators is blasting Obama’s Health Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, for issuing the directive and blowing off a congressional oversight request.In a letter to Sebelius, the senators say it’s “highly inappropriate” for the agency to obstruct a congressional investigation and they tell the Health Secretary that “no agency should be allowed to stonewall GAO investigations.” After all, the senators write, the GAO is the federal government watchdog that keeps an “auditor’s eye out for taxpayer dollars.”One of the senators reminds Sebelius of the Obama Administration’stransparency pledge and urges the Health Department to live up to the promise by complying and demanding that states comply with the GAO’s probe. “I am stunned that HHS appears to be thumbing its nose at Congressional oversight and GAO’s legitimate investigations,” saidMaine’s Susan Collins, a ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.Sebelius has also been in hot water over the high number of healthcare law waivers she’s granted to Obama’s financial supporters in a secretive process. Last fall Judicial Watch filed a public records request to obtain information on the shady deals, but the Obama Health Department flipped the finger and Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit earlier this year to force the agency’s compliance.
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