US

Obamacare Chief Ordered Official To Delete HealthCare.gov Emails

Obamacare head Marilyn Tavenner told a top press official to delete an e-mail related to HealthCare.gov during the botched launch, according to documents released Friday.

House Republicans are seeking emails from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials to discover exactly how Obamacare and HealthCare.gov’s rollout went so wrong. But it turns out that last October, Tavenner directly told CMS’s communications director, Julie Bataille, to delete an email chain with White House officials about HealthCare.gov and contractor Serco. 

“Please delete this email-but please see if we can work on call script,” Tavenner wrote to Bataille, upon receiving an email chain which discussed talking points on getting through the then-nonfunctional Obamacare website and the efforts of Obamacare contractor Serco.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to Tavenner Friday asking why Tavenner directed Bataille to delete the emails and whether she had directed any HHS or CMS staff to delete any other communications or documents about HealthCare.gov.

“This contradicts the letter sent to the National Archives, which explained that your practice was to instruct subordinates to retain copies of e-mails,” the committee wrote to Tavenner, requesting to discuss the issue as soon as possible.

CMS admitted last week in a letter to the National Archives and Records Administration that Tavenner did not follow the administration’s policy on keeping copies of emails and that some communications sought by Congress were likely missing. (RELATED: Obama Official Deleted Obamacare Emails Sought By Congress)

“To keep an orderly email box and to stay within the agency’s email system capacity limits, the Administrator generally copied or forwarded emails to immediate staff for retention and retrieval, and did not maintain her own copies,” CMS’ letter read.

“Right on cue, when the going gets tough, the Obama administration proclaims it can’t find the documents,” said committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton. “And now we know that when HealthCare.gov was crashing, those in charge were hitting the delete button behind the scenes.” 

Follow Sarah on Twitter