House committee leader says HHS withheld information, threatens subpoena

A House representative said his committee may issue a court-ordered subpoena if HHS continues to withhold documents without providing a "legitimate, legal basis" for doing so, according to The Hill.

Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, made the threat of a subpoena in a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar.

In the letter, dated Jan. 29, Mr. Gowdy claims HHS since October 2017 has not cooperated "voluntarily, expeditiously and in good faith" with the committee's requests for information.

"Rather than work in good faith to accommodate the committee's oversight and investigative requirements and constitutional prerogatives, and despite the committee's effort to accommodate HHS's legitimate interests, the department has missed mutually-agreed deadlines, produced meager and incomplete sets of information (much of which is available publicly), and taken a posture of nonchalance with respect to the committee's requests," Mr. Gowdy wrote.

He goes on to cite multiple examples, including requests for information or documents related to federal disaster preparedness and response in U.S. territories; HIPAA/HITECH guidance; and cost-sharing reduction payments to insurers.  

Mr. Gowdy asked that HHS produce requested documents and information by Feb. 5, or provide a "legitimate, legal basis" for withholding them. "Otherwise," he wrote, "the committee may use compulsory process to obtain those materials."

HHS spokesperson Matt Lloyd told Becker's the agency "received the letter and will respond in a timely manner." 

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