American Spectator's Washington Prowler is not backing down from their debunked claim based on dubious, anonymous sources that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) withheld a report on health care reform until after the health care vote. However, they are now lying about what they originally reported. From today's post (emphasis added):
The Prowler reported via sources inside Health and Human Services that data from the study that indicated that costs would hit consumers in the pocketbook was made available to the senior officials in HHS, prior to final passage of the legislation in the House. The report never stated that it was submitted for approval.
Where would people get the crazy idea that the HHS report had been "submitted for approval"? From the Prowler's actual original report (emphasis added):
The economic report released last week by Health and Human Services, which indicated that President Barack Obama's health care "reform" law would actually increase the cost of health care and impose higher costs on consumers, had been submitted to the office of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius more than a week before the Congressional votes on the bill, according to career HHS sources, who added that Sebelius's staff refused to review the document before the vote was taken.
The analysis, performed by Medicare's Office of the Actuary, which in the past has been identified as a "nonpolitical" office, set off alarm bells when submitted. "We know a copy was sent to the White House via their legislative affairs staff," says the HHS staffer, "and there were a number of meetings here almost right after the analysis was submitted to the secretary's office. Everyone went into lockdown, and people here were too scared to go public with the report."
This is how the Prowler is apparently getting around Medicare chief actuary Richard S. Foster's response that Prowler's article was "completely inaccurate" because they only "began working" on the health care reform reconciliation bill when it was released March 18, and so couldn't finish by the March 21 House vote on the Senate reform bill - claiming that the "report" wasn't done, but HHS had some "data."
Prowler goes on to basically say that HHS officials should have leaked that raw data, which sounds like a complaint they should be directing to their HHS "sources." Incidentally, "HHS had raw data and it didn't leak" isn't a story. "HHS had a report and withheld it" is -- which is probably why that's what the Prowler originally (falsely) reported, contrary to their current protestations.
In short, Prowler has entirely changed the story they claim to have gotten from their "sources," all the while claiming that those "sources" are "stand[ing] by" their claims.
Then there's this:
That the report was issued after the bill's passage is not in dispute. What is in dispute is who had data and when were those estimates initially available. According to our sources, researchers in the actuary's office had several models prepared, at least one of them based on the Senate health care reform bill, which was passed several months before the House vote. Data from studying the Senate bill indicated that -- big surprise -- the bill would increase health care costs.
Recall that the House bill in most ways resembled the Senate bill, with the exception of a number of "technical fixes." Obama signed the bill into law the Tuesday after House passage -- before the Senate took those "fixes" up.
"The legislation was incredibly complex, there is no question about that," says an HHS source we spoke to. "But people have been crunching numbers on these bills for quite some time after January 1."
The mendacity here is breathtaking. Yes, HHS has a model "based on the Senate health care reform bill." Yes, they've been "crunching numbers on these bills for quite some time after January 1."
That's why the Office of the Actuary released a report on the financial effects of the Senate bill on January 8. The same report to which Foster directed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in March 20 letter stating that his office would not be able to analyze the reconciliation bill's impact on the Senate bill before the House vote. The same report that the Prowler has yet to acknowledge, because together with Foster's letter it causes the entire story to unravel.