GOP says Obama health official instructed staff to delete email

House Republicans on Friday accused a top Obama administration health official of telling staff to delete an email related to the healthcare law’s rollout last fall.


In a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the Republicans point to an Oct. 5 email from Tavenner to staff about how to handle calls from people applying for ObamaCare. 

In the first line of the email, Tavenner writes “please delete this email but see if we can work on call script.”

Republicans in their letter ask why Tavenner wanted the email deleted, and whether she has asked for other emails to be deleted.

“This contradicts ... [the claim] that your practice was to instruct subordinates to retain copies of e-mails,” said the lawmakers, including House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonOvernight Health Care — Presented by Partnership for America's Health Care Future — Democrats seek to preempt Trump message on health care | E-cigarette executives set for grilling | Dems urge emergency funding for coronavirus Democrats slam GOP on drug prices in bilingual digital ads Lawmakers discuss how to work together in midst of impeachment fight MORE (R-Mich.) and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.).

Asked for comment, the CMS did not answer why Tavenner requested the email to be deleted.

“The administrator forwarded this email to a press staffer for her awareness,” said agency spokesman Aaron Albright. “She also copied her immediate staff, and the email was therefore preserved.”

Energy and Commerce has been digging into whether the CMS deleted emails related to ObamaCare’s launch.

The CMS has acknowledged that some emails sought by GOP lawmakers may have been deleted but has said its general policy was to keep emails. It blamed an overwhelming number of emails coming in at the time of ObamaCare’s launch for the deletion of any emails. 

But the release of an email that appears to show Tavenner instructing subordinates to delete an email will bolster the GOP’s case that the administration was seeking to hide emails during ObamaCare’s launch.

“Time and again, the self proclaimed 'most transparent administration' has been anything but," Upton said in a statement. "And now we know that when was crashing, those in charge were hitting the delete button behind the scenes. What was the Obama administration trying to hide?”