Lew’s Blues

GOP probing Jack Lew’s failure to respond to Medicare insolvency warnings

Jack Lew
Jack Lew / AP
February 7, 2013

The Office of Management and Budget has declined to cooperate with a Republican inquiry into whether treasury secretary nominee Jack Lew was complicit in violating federal Medicare law.

Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee are probing Lew’s involvement in the administration’s alleged failure to respond to annual warnings about Medicare’s pending insolvency.

The administration is required by law to submit legislation to address the Medicare funding crisis within 15 days after a funding warning is issued by the Medicare Trustees.

According to Republicans on the Senate Budget Committee, the Obama administration has not responded to the last four years of funding warnings, including during 2010 and 2011 when Lew was director of the Office of Management and Budget.

The senators are requesting a detailed legislative proposal addressing the current Medicare funding warnings as well as all documents received or written by Lew regarding these warnings.

Acting OMB director Jeffrey Zients said in a letter to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) this week that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act has already addressed the Medicare solvency issue and did not address the Republican requests for more information on Lew’s involvement.

"The Medicare Trustees have noted that the Affordable Care Act reduces the need for general revenue financing of Medicare and improves its long-term solvency," said Zients.

Sessions rejected the OMB’s argument in a letter to Zients Thursday and suggested Lew’s confirmation could hinge on whether the administration releases the requested documents.

"I was stunned that you would suggest that the president’s health law in any way satisfies the legal conditions of the trigger: As you are no doubt aware, a funding warning has been issued in every year since that law was passed," said Sessions. "The administration remains in a state of noncompliance with the requirement to send a legislative proposal in response to the Medicare Trustees’ funding warning."

"Congress will need documents pertaining to his role in the violation of this law, as well as a concrete legislative proposal that brings the administration into legal compliance. Failure to do so could make it difficult for Mr. Lew’s nomination to move forward," Sessions added.