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News Tuesday, May 9 2017

What is happening at HHS?

May 09, 2017

“The Trump Administration is already making health insurance more expensive by undermining the Affordable Care Act and now they’re taking “potentially illegal steps” to silence voices of dissent. Comrade Putin must be so proud,” said American Bridge spokesperson Andrew Bates. “As Republicans try to force Trumpcare on the country, costing 26 million Americans their health insurance to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy, the American people deserve to know what exactly Tom Price and his cronies are trying to hide. Nothing short of full transparency will do.”

Axios: Republicans scold Tom Price for “potentially illegal” HHS memo
David Nather

Two top congressional Republicans are warning Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price that a memo to HHS employees restricting their communications with Congress is “potentially illegal and unconstitutional” and could have a chilling effect on whistleblowers.

Why they spoke up: In a letter to Price, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz noted that “federal employees have a constitutional right to communicate directly with Congress.”

What the memo said: The memo from HHS chief of staff Lance Leggitt said agency employees shouldn’t communicate with members of Congress or their staff without consulting the Assistant Secretary for Legislation. Leggitt said the request was to “ensure that our efforts are coordinated,” but Grassley and Chaffetz said it should have noted that there are federal whistleblower protections.

Why it matters: Don’t underestimate the significance of two Republican committee chairmen issuing such a strong warning to a Republican administration. We’ve reached out to HHS and will update this post if there’s a response.

Published: May 9, 2017

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