By Julian Pecquet - 05/19/11 08:55 PM EDT
The Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday it is standing by its policy of not releasing the names of rejected healthcare reform waiver applicants despite growing criticism on the right.
"It is a long-standing policy that Federal agencies do not release organizations that apply for grants, waivers or other government programs," HHS spokeswoman Jessica Santillo told The Hill via e-mail.
The Hill reported last week that the number of waivers from the law's annual limit requirement has reached 1,372. This week, the Daily Caller added to the controversy by reporting that a number of the most recent waivers went to businesses in House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district.
Pelosi denies any involvement, and the third-party administrator that requested the waivers also says she wasn't involved. HHS says it has a transparent process for approving waivers and that it has granted more than 90 percent of them, but the department's refusal to reveal the rejected applicants has fueled accusations of cronyism.
"Even if they're doing their utmost scrupulous best to be fair," health policy expert Edmund Haislmaier of the Heritage Foundation told the Daily Caller, "this whole process they’ve got is inherently suspicious."
Added conservative blogger Michelle Malkin: The waiver process has a "stench of favoritism" that "can't be removed until and unless such a list is released."