The Washington Times - April 9, 2013, 11:08AM

The acting administrator for the federal Medicare agency told Sen. Chuck Grassley she will conduct a thorough investigation of a possible intelligence leak from her ranks that jolted the stock market earlier this month.

“I do not consider this a small issue,” Marilyn B. Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the Iowa Republican at her Senate Finance Committee confirmation hearing Tuesday. “I consider this a huge issue.”


Ms. Tavenner said she will ask the her agency’s inspector general to take a look at what happened on April 1, when a political intelligence firm called Height Securities issued an alert about a possible deal to avoid rate cuts to the Medicare Advantage program.

The problem, Mr. Grassley has said, is the alert went out before the agency went public with its decision to a replace a rate cut with a rate increase for the program, which allows seniors to obtain expanded coverage from private insurers.

The alert sent shares of Medicare Advantage-related companies such as Humana Inc. soaring in late-day trading.

Such a leak, Mr. Grassley said, “is wrong and quite possibly illegal.”

Ms. Tavenner ensured Mr. Grassley that she will keep him informed as her in-house inquiry moves forward.

“This is not something that we want to happen, ever,” she said.