American Oversight Demands Release of Secret Health Care Negotiations

Ethics Watchdog Files FOIA Requests to Learn What Trump Administration Has Been Telling Congress and Interest Groups about Health Care Bill

Washington, DC – As last minute health care negotiations continue behind closed doors, American Oversight is demanding that the Trump administration release its communications with Congress and outside interest groups regarding the health care reform bill.

“The only transparency we have in this health care debate is that we know the administration is cutting secret deals behind the scenes,” said Austin Evers, Executive Director of American Oversight. “We’re going to hold the administration to the same standard that then-Congressmen Mike Pence and Tom Price set when they condemned ‘sleazy backroom dealing’ in ‘smoke-filled rooms’ during the last health care debate.”

In 2010, as the Affordable Care Act was moving towards passage, Pence and Price publicly called for negotiations to take place in public.

American Oversight has filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking records of all communications between senior officials at the White House Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Health and Human Services and members of Congress, state governments, and outside organizations.

American Oversight’s FOIA request applies to records dating from the first day of the Trump administration through the present, and would cover any emails or memos sent as part of the negotiations taking place today. The request includes:

  • All communications relating to health care reform, including meeting notices, agendas, drafts, and talking points, exchanged between the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and:
    • Members of Congress and congressional staff;
    • Non-governmental entities (such as insurers, advocacy groups, trade associations, or political parties);
    • State governments or state government agencies.
  • Calendars entries for senior political appointees in OMB and HHS relating to health care reform.
  • All documents reflecting any analysis performed by OMB or HHS of the estimated costs or budgetary impact of the AHCA or other health care reform legislation, as well as any communications with the Congressional Budget Office regarding the AHCA.

The public has a legal right to these records. While some internal communications within federal agencies can be exempted from release under FOIA, communications between federal officials and members of Congress or outside groups are generally not protected – and American Oversight expects that these records will be released.

“If Congress and the administration think they can say one thing in public and another in private they are sadly mistaken. The truth will come out,” Evers added.

Related Blog Posts

July 17, 2019

American Oversight Sues for Betsy DeVos’ Emails Sent with Personal Account

Department of Education
Investigation Update
June 25, 2019

Trump Nominates Another Defense-Industry Insider as Pentagon Chief

Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Treasury, Federal Aviation Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Investigation Update
June 25, 2019

Lawsuit Seeks Records of Trump Family Influence over Minnesota Mining Project

Bureau of Land Management, Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, United States Forest Service
Investigation Update
June 18, 2019

Betsy DeVos Wants to Give a Free Pass to the Student Loan Company That Ripped Off 78,000 Servicemembers

Department of Education
News
June 17, 2019

More Evidence of Chao’s Preferential Treatment of Kentucky-Specific Requests

Congress, Department of Transportation
Investigation Update
June 10, 2019

Elaine Chao Calendars Reveal New Links to Family’s Company, Including Private Photo Session

Department of Transportation
News
June 7, 2019

News Roundup: Investigating Outside Influence and Political Appointments at the State Department

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Small Business Administration
News
June 4, 2019

Documents Reveal Extent of Koch-Funded VA Privatization Group’s Influence

Department of Veterans Affairs
Investigation Update
May 30, 2019

Trump Administration Appeals Court Decision Ordering It to Turn Over Communications with Congress About ACA Sabotage

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
May 24, 2019

News Roundup: Congressional Hearing Shows and No-Shows

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Customs and Border Protection, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Taylor County - Florida
News
May 17, 2019

News Roundup: Investigating State-Level Threats to Democracy

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of Veterans Affairs, Environmental Protection Agency, Florida, Georgia, Texas
News
May 14, 2019

Top VA Officials Used Personal Email to Communicate with Mar-a-Lago Members

Department of Veterans Affairs
Investigation Update
May 10, 2019

News Roundup: Casinos and Questions

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
News
May 6, 2019

Lawsuits Seek Information on Whether Casino Magnates Have Cashed In on Relationships to Trump Administration

Department of Commerce, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Department of State, Department of the Treasury
Investigation Update
May 3, 2019

News Roundup: Above the Law

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of State, Department of the Interior, Department of the Treasury, Department of Veterans Affairs, General Services Administration, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
News
May 3, 2019

New Evidence of Emoluments Violations Prompts American Oversight Lawsuit

Department of Justice, Department of State
Investigation Update
April 10, 2019

Department of Education Resumes Reveal Pro-Charter School Bias

Department of Education
Investigation Update
April 2, 2019

Federal Judge Rejects Administration’s Argument for Withholding Communications with Congress about ACA Sabotage

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
News
April 1, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks Evidence of Outside Influence on Judicial Nominations

Department of Justice
Investigation Update
March 27, 2019

Lawsuit Seeks Records of Casino Industry Lobbying Efforts

Department of Justice
Investigation Update
March 25, 2019

The Corruption Continues: Mueller Has Finished His Work. American Oversight Has Not.

News
March 22, 2019

News Roundup: Same Old Stories

News
March 19, 2019

Is DHS Failing to Search for Records — Or Is Washington’s Most Influential Lobbying Firm Inflating Its Reports?

Department of Homeland Security
News
March 13, 2019

Two Years of American Oversight

News
March 12, 2019

Investigating the Trump Administration’s Efforts to Sell Nuclear Technology to Saudi Arabia

Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, Department of State, Department of the Treasury, International Trade Administration, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
News
March 8, 2019

Watchdogs Sue HHS Following Women’s Health Website Overhaul

Department of Health and Human Services
News
March 7, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks Records of Agribusiness Influence on USDA School Nutrition Standards

Department of Agriculture
Investigation Update
March 6, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks Records of Boeing Influence at the Pentagon

Department of Defense
News
March 4, 2019

Documents Reveal Ben Carson Jr.’s Attempts to Use His Influence at HUD to Help His Business

Baltimore City Housing and Community Development, Baltimore Mayor's Office, Department of Housing and Urban Development
Investigation Update
March 1, 2019

News Roundup: What We Can Learn from Trump Administration Calendars

News
March 1, 2019

HHS Secretary Azar Calendars Show Multiple Meetings with Conservative Health-Care Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
News
February 28, 2019

At Least Fourteen Federal Agencies Have Created No Guidance for Spending Taxpayer Money at Trump Properties

Investigation Update
February 28, 2019

The Complicated World of Wilbur Ross’ Finances

Department of Commerce
News
February 21, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks HHS Communications with Anti-Abortion Groups

Department of Health and Human Services
News
February 19, 2019

New Lawsuit Seeks Records of Communications Between the State Department, Steve Bannon and Sean Hannity

Investigation Update
February 12, 2019

HUD Senior Official Lynne Patton Thinks American Oversight Needs to Get a Life

Department of Housing and Urban Development
News
January 9, 2019

Investigating the Acting Defense Secretary’s Ties to Boeing

Department of Defense
News
December 27, 2018

Countdown to Oversight in 2019

News
December 10, 2018

Wait, There’s More: News of Another Administration Official Using Personal Email

Environmental Protection Agency
News
September 12, 2018

Back to School Changes with Secretary DeVos’ Department of Education

Department of Education
Investigation Update
May 7, 2018

What’s Going on at Education? Teacher Strikes, School Discipline Policies and For-Profit Influence

Department of Education
Investigation Update
March 9, 2018

American Oversight Sues HHS and CMS for Verma Ethics Records

Centers For Medicare and Medicaid Services, Department of Health and Human Services
News
February 9, 2018

New Lawsuit Seeks DHS Border Wall Emails with White House, Fox News, Border States

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security
Investigation Update
January 16, 2018

Video: Breaking Down Our Lawsuit with HHS, OMB, and Congress

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
November 3, 2017

American Oversight Launches ‘NAFTA Watch’

Department of Commerce, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
Investigation Update
October 27, 2017

Unexcused Absences: DeVos Calendars Show Frequent Days Off

Department of Education
Investigation Update
October 17, 2017

Health Care Lawsuit: Fighting for Transparency

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
October 10, 2017

New Lawsuit Seeks Answers about Ben Carson’s Management of HUD

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Investigation Update
October 6, 2017

American Oversight Calls for Investigation of Manhattan DA Vance’s Failure to Investigate Fraud at Trump SoHo Development

News
September 15, 2017

Congress Enters Legal Fight to Block Release of Obamacare Repeal Emails

Congress, Department of Health and Human Services
Investigation Update
September 13, 2017

“News to Me!” – Inside the Health Care Emails

Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
September 7, 2017

Third Set of Health Care Emails Again Shows Trump Administration Effort to Hide Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
August 30, 2017

Watchdog Groups Launch Joint Investigation into EPA Oversight of Toxic Substances Control Act

Investigation Update
August 18, 2017

Resume Shows Trump Appointee Falsified Credentials

Department of Housing and Urban Development
Investigation Update
August 2, 2017

New Health Care Documents Show Effort to Hide Details of Negotiations

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
July 26, 2017

American Oversight Sues FCC to Obtain Net Neutrality Communications with Industry Groups

Federal Communications Commission
Investigation Update
July 20, 2017

American Oversight Sues HHS and OMB For Secret Trump Letter Outlining Plan to Weaken Obamacare

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget, White House
Investigation Update
June 27, 2017

American Oversight Sues EPA to Release Pruitt’s Calendars and Communications with Carl Icahn

Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
June 22, 2017

American Oversight and Environmental Working Group Challenge EPA Over Failure to Release Pesticide Records

Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
May 4, 2017

Watchdog Files Lawsuit, Seeks Injunction for HHS, OMB Health Care Negotiation Record

Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Management and Budget
Investigation Update
April 26, 2017

American Oversight Seeks Release of FCC Net Neutrality Communications

Federal Communications Commission
Investigation Update
April 14, 2017

Statement on White House Decision to Keep Visitor Logs Secret

White House
News
April 14, 2017

Broad Coalition of Transparency Advocates Call for White House to Release Visitor Logs

White House
News
April 12, 2017

American Oversight and Environmental Working Group Demand Release of Pruitt Communications with Pesticide Industry

Environmental Protection Agency
Investigation Update
April 4, 2017

10 Questions about the Border Wall that Deserve Big, Beautiful Answers

Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior
Investigation Update
March 24, 2017

American Oversight Launches Investigation of President Trump’s Border Wall

Department of Homeland Security
Investigation Update