Scully Defies Subpoena to Appear Before House Committee
CMS Administrator Thomas Scully yesterday defied a congressional subpoena to appear before a House committee to discuss the impact of Medicare regulations on small businesses, the Washington Post reports. The House Small Business Committee had called Scully to testify in a hearing about whether Medicare regulations have hurt small businesses that market medical devices such as portable X-ray machines. Several physicians have said that low Medicare reimbursement rates have forced a number of the companies out of business. Scully arrived on Capitol Hill shortly before the 10 a.m. hearing to testify (Connolly, Washington Post, 4/11). But after he read the witness list, which included representatives of industry groups, Scully told committee staff members he would not appear at the hearing with individuals from companies he regulates (AP/New York Times, 4/11). He did, however, submit written comments to the committee (Fulton, CongressDaily, 4/10). Scully added that he would address the committee separately and listen to testimony from the other witnesses, but he said that he would not "mix it up with people who have a gripe about a particular regulation." He said that congressional "courtesy" and "tradition" should allow him to testify "free of interference" from other witnesses. According to the Washington Post, Scully decided not to appear before the committee after consulting with HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson and department counsel Alex Azar (Washington Post, 4/11). "The department decided this was the right thing to do. There was no precedent for the department to testify on a panel with people we regulate," Scully said (AP/New York Times, 4/10).
Scully's decision not to testify prompted committee Chair Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) to demand his resignation (AP/New York Times, 4/11). "I asked for his resignation today because if he thinks he's too good to sit with taxpayers, he does a disservice to every medical provider and recipients of Medicare and Medicaid," Manzullo said (CongressDaily, 4/10). He added, "Anybody who refuses ... to work out problems affecting people's lives shouldn't be in public service." Manzullo said he is considering several options to deal with the situation, including holding Scully in contempt of Congress (Washington Post, 4/11). The full House would have to vote on "any official action" against Scully (CongressDaily, 4/10).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.