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Committee Leaders Push HHS to Respond to Subpoenas

The chairmen of two House committees investigating the funding for the Basic Health Program pressed the Department of Health and Human Services to respond to a subpoena for documents in a letter sent Tuesday.

Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Kevin Brady (R-Texas) told HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell that the department was required to respond to a subpoena issued in March, and pressed for more information. The Energy and Commerce Committee and the Committee on Ways and Means, which Upton and Brady respectively chair, have been investigating the funding of the Basic Health Program without a congressional appropriation since last June.

The Basic Health Program is an option states can choose to launch aimed at helping low-income people who aren’t eligible for Medicaid afford health insurance. Congress has not appropriated funding for the program, although the Obama administration says the program is fully funded under the Affordable Care Act.

The two say that HHS has produced one heavily-redacted document since the subpoena was issued.

“Your Department has not asserted any valid legal privilege — presuming there is a basis for such privilege — on which the Department may withhold information from Congress,” they wrote. “The Committees do not believe there are any valid legal privileges in this instance.”

“It is inconceivable that there are no other documents response to the request,” they added.