U.S. says some healthcare emails sought by Congress are missing

WASHINGTON Thu Aug 7, 2014 7:00pm EDT

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for  Medicare & Medicaid Services, testifies before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on ''Affordable Care Act Implementation on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, testifies before a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on ''Affordable Care Act Implementation on Capitol Hill in Washington, October 29, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Related Topics

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A top U.S. healthcare official involved in the botched rollout of the website HealthCare.gov may have deleted some emails that were later sought by Republican congressional investigators, administration officials said on Thursday.

The emails were from a public email account maintained by Marilyn Tavenner, who heads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agency chiefly responsible for implementing President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law.

"While we have not identified any specific emails that we will be unable to retrieve, it is possible that some emails may not be available," a CMS records official said in an Aug. 6 letter informing the National Archives of the situation.

The letter made no reference to any evidence that Tavenner intentionally hid or destroyed the emails. An administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, attributed the potential loss to "sloppy record keeping".

Republicans who have made the Affordable Care Act, including last October's problem-riddled launch of HealthCare.gov, top issues in the November congressional elections. Some House Republicans have raised questions about congressional testimony from Tavenner and other administration officials who predicted before the rollout that HealthCare.gov would launch successfully.

“An initial analysis gives us confidence that the vast majority of Administrator Tavenner’s email records are retrievable," said CMS spokesman Aaron Albright.

He said CMS has identified more than 71,000 emails that include Tavenner's name as recipient or author.

"There are no significant chronological gaps and we are working to compile the most complete email record for her as possible,” Albright said.

U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which subpoenaed Tavenners' emails late last year, accused the administration of losing or destroying the emails of more than a score of witnesses in its investigations.

"Yet again, we discover that this administration will not be forthright with the American people unless cornered,” Issa said in a statement.

CMS said the missing emails were from a public account that received an extremely high volume of messages from outside groups. Tavenner sought to preserve some emails by forwarding them to her internal staff for retention and retrieval. But officials said the practice was irregular and that emails she did not forward to the internal HHS system may not be retrievable.

Last November, CMS said Tavenner began to maintain her own copies.

(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by David Gregorio)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (7)
hometown wrote:
Sorry, dear. “Believablility” doesn’t come up in Bing or Google. There are no scientific measures of your truthfulness. Therefore, you will have to convince me, personally. You haven’t done that so far.

Aug 07, 2014 11:50pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
gitmojo wrote:
Another “coincidental” deletion making at least twenty such for witnesses under investigation.
Will this lawless administration explain away the missing $619 Billion unaccounted for in latest GAO audits on sloppy record keeping as well?
Where’s Bob Woodward when you need him?
This is a monumental, criminal farce.

Aug 07, 2014 12:32am EDT  --  Report as abuse
valwayne wrote:
Surprise! Surprise! Surprise! We all know what this is. As soon as the corrupt, lying Obama regime realized that their criminal conspiracy to use the IRS against their political opponents was going to be investigated they began their criminal cover up. You can bet that the emails that were destroyed were the ones that made the conspiracy and criminality that was being run out of the White House, and involved multiple Government agencies clear. How many hard drives have crashed now? None of which could be recovered? How many servers and back ups wiped clean? The company that archived data fired and wiped? Now everyone involved has destroyed emails/Evidence that its against regulations to destroy? Obama was running the most massive criminal conspiracy in U.S. history. Now he’s running the most massive criminal cover up. Compared to Obama, Nixon was a rank amateur at this conspiracy and cover up business, and Obama gets away with it because the Poodle Media lets him get away with it. Everyone knows this is a criminal cover up, but most of the media just ignore it.

Aug 08, 2014 3:01pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.