Executive Intelligence Review
Subscribe to EIR


Sec. 1233 T-4 Euthanasia Regulation
Cover-Up: What Are They Hiding?

Jan. 14, 2011 (EIRNS)—Obviously, something very irregular went on around CMS Director Sir Donald Berwick's promulgation of the now-withdrawn T-4 regulation authorizing annual death-counselling for Medicare recipients. In attempting to find out exactly what happened, EIR has encountered a very solid stone wall—and this from the Obama Administration which had promised "openness" and "transparency" in agency rule-making (the technical term for the process of writing administrative regulations).

In its Dec. 26 story disclosing that the notorious Section 1233 authorizing end-of-life counselling had been secretly inserted into Medicare regulations published in November, the New York Times identified Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-VW) as leading a group of Congressional Democrats who urged Berwick to have Medicare pay for end-of-life counselling. Blumenauer told the Times in an interview that he and Rockefeller had sent a letter to Berwick in August, demanding that "advance care planning" be included in the Medicare regulations. The Times story also quoted from a Blumenauer email to supporters, directing them to keep quiet about the death-regulation, since "we aren't out of the woods yet," and the regulation could still be "modified or reversed" if the media or blogs learned of it—which, in fact, is what later happened.

After two weeks of strenuous efforts, EIR has been unable to obtain the letter from either Blumenauer's or Rockefeller's offices, or from CMS itself, despite repeated requests to their respective press offices, and numerous phone calls and emails. That letter was apparently filed as part of the "public comment" process after the draft regulations were published in July, but the letter is not contained in the hundreds of "public comments" posted by CMS.

An apologetic CMS press officer told EIR on Jan. 12 that he had been unable to obtain the letter or any other information from his agency, and he said the EIR would have to file a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act.

Anticipating this response after the first week of requests, EIR did in fact file an FOIA request a week ago.

All of which begs the question: What are they hiding?