Treasury Nominee Jack Lew Accused of Breaking Medicare Law

Prominent Senate Republicans are accusing Treasury Secretary nominee Jack Lew of violating Medicare law. Under federal law, presidential administrations are required to submit a plan to Congress on how to fix Medicare’s financial issues if the program’s funding is imbalanced. Medicare funding has been imbalanced for many consecutive years but Congress has not received one legally mandated legislative Medicare proposal from the Obama administration.

As director of the White House budget office in 2010 and 2011, Jack Lew was responsible for submitting the plan—and failed to do so. A group of Senate Republicans lead by Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) sent a letter to President Obama’s White House budget director Jeffrey Zients requesting documents on the “Medicare Trigger”, a warning from the Medicare Trustees on the financial instability of the program. Here is a portion of the letter sent out Monday:

Both the House and Senate Budget Committees, along with the Senate Republican Conference at large, have previously corresponded with the administration regarding its continued violation of federal law with respect to the so-called Medicare Trigger.  The Senate will soon consider the nomination of Jacob Lew, who served as the Director of Office [of] Management and Budget during this period of noncompliance and who, if confirmed as Secretary of the Treasury, will also hold the position of Chairman of the Board of Medicare Trustees.  Pursuant to our committee’s oversight responsibilities, we are therefore writing to request documents pertaining to the Medicare Trigger to better ascertain Mr. Lew’s role in this matter during his time as budget director.

However, the Obama administration has not properly responded to their request for documents pertaining to the so-called Medicare trigger. On Thursday, Senator Sessions sent a follow up letter requesting the documents again:

Your reply to the letter from our committee members was non-responsive. The Administration has never complied with the Medicare trigger—and you effectively conceded as much in your letter. The law is unambiguous and yet the Administration has never sent Congress the legally mandated legislative proposal in response to four consecutive Medicare funding warnings. The previous Administration, on the other hand, did comply. These facts are not in dispute.

As our oversight letter states, in order to properly consider Mr. Lew’s nomination, 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.

Jack Lew’s failure to submit a Medicare plan to Congress is just one of many reasons that he is unfit to be Treasury Secretary. Call your senators and tell them to vote NO during Jack Lew’s confirmation hearing!

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