Sen. Chuck Grassley said the acting director of the federal Medicare agency needs to hold someone accountable for a supposed leak of information that had an immediate impact on Wall Street last week.
Mr. Grassley, Iowa Republican, has asked Marilyn Tavenner of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for a timeline and details of any communications about the decision to replace a proposed 2.2 percent cut with a 3.3 percent increase to rates for the Medicare Advantage program that allows seniors to obtain expanded coverage from private insurers.
He cited a report in the Wall Street Journal that said a firm named Height Securities issued an advisory about a deal to stave off a rate cut on Monday afternoon — but before CMS’s decision became public.
In a letter to Ms. Tavenner, Mr. Grassley said stocks for companies like Humana rose after the advisory went out. He fears that a leak from CMS led to the misuse of “political intelligence” for financial gain, a phenomenon he investigated at CMS about two years ago.
Ms. Tavenner is set to appear on Capitol Hill on Tuesday for her confirmation hearing as director of CMS.
“I hope Ms. Tavenner recognizes the importance of these questions,” Mr. Grassley said Monday on the Senate floor. “I hope she comes prepared to take responsibility.”
He said leaders need to send a stern warning to the political intelligence industry, which he described as “murky.”
“Because in this town,” he said, “if heads don’t roll, nothing changes.”