Award-winning Investigative Journalists Sue Obama Admin Over Medicare Advantage Transparency

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A Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalism organization filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration Tuesday for refusing to disclose Medicare Advantage documents.

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI), a left-leaning nonprofit research outlet, is suing the Department of Health and Human Services over public documents available through the Freedom of Information Act that the administration will not disclose.

CPI has struggled for a year to obtain documents that concern an HHS subagency, the Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services’, oversight of the Medicare Advantage program — a privately-run and often lower-cost alternative to Medicare. The federal government is required by law to respond to public records requests within 20 business days; but while CPI received an acknowledgment of their request in May 2013, they’ve yet to receive any documents.

Fred Schulte, a senior reporter at CPI, requested that CMS provide program audits, billing data and the names of health insurance plans that the administration suspected had overcharged the federal government for Medicare Advantage patients. Medicare Advantage costs taxpayers $150 billion annually.

“The information about Medicare Advantage that we are asking for should be readily available to the taxpaying public,” CPI Executive Director Bill Buzenberg said in a statement. “There’s no excuse for ignoring our request.”

CPI and The Wall Street Journal successfully sued the Medicare administrator in 2009 over a failure to disclose Medicare billing records.

The center promised to publish the results of the investigation next month.

It’s the latest of several recent lawsuits against the Obama administration for its lack of transparency. Judicial Watch, a right-leaning nonprofit government watchdog, filed two lawsuits against the Obama administration’s CMS last month for refusing to release documents relating to Obamacare.

Judicial Watch is seeking documents about files that communicate enrollment in Obamacare exchanges between the federal government and private insurers, as well as records relating to the administration’s oversight and requirements for Obamacare navigators.

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