By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 05/14/14 06:24 PM EDT
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Cali.) on Wednesday accused outgoing Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius of failing to comply with a subpoena for documents related to last year’s botched launch of HealthCare.gov.
Issa warned Sebelius in a letter that he would “have no alternative but to consider the full range of options to enforce the subpoena” if the department fails to produce the documents requested.
“The department’s substantial delay in production, combined with its improper redactions, has obstructed the committee’s investigation,” says Issa in a letter to Sebelius on Wednesday. “The department’s failure to comply fully hinders the Committee’s constitutional obligation to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch.”
Sebelius is likely serving her final days as HHS secretary, as the Senate is expected to soon confirm her replacement, Sylvia Mathews Burwell.
But on her way out the door, Issa accused Sebelius's Health Department of hindering his investigation by telling its contractors not to comply with the committee’s subpoena, and implied the White House has been complicit in the department’s foot dragging.
“On February 25, 2014, Committee staff met with representatives of the Office of Counsel to the President to discuss the White House’s role in the Department’s response to the Committee’s subpoena,” noted Issa. “During the meeting, Counsel’s Office staff communicated that the White House does in fact have equities in certain documents covered by the subpoena, and that the White House was withholding those documents for further White House review.”
In addition to the earlier subpoena, Issa says he wants all documents the HHS has reviewed under the subpoena and all documents it has sent the White House for review as of May 8.
He also wants a total of all documents that have been withheld from the Oversight Committee, either in full or in part, and the reasons why.
An HHS spokesperson said since the launch of HealthCare.gov HHS, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials have testified at more than 50 Congressional hearings on the implementation of ObamaCare.
"Since October, HHS and CMS staff have responded to hundreds of Congressional letters and inquiries, and in response to Congressional Oversight requests, have produced more than 110,000 pages of documents on ACA-related matters to Congress," added the spokesperson. "Importantly, less than 1 percent contained redacted content – primarily over security issues."
The department has until May 28 to respond to Issa’s letter.
— This article was updated at 11:19 p.m.