House Oversight Committee chair blasts HHS over failure to comply with document requests

Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., says HHS has failed to comply with various documentation requests dating back to October. (Image: Sarah Stierch/CC BY 4.0)

A South Carolina congressman is lashing out at the Department of Health and Human Services for a “pattern of nonresponsiveness and wanton disregard” when it comes to fulfilling document requests from lawmakers, including information related to HIPAA and the HITECH Act.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, a Republican who chairs the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said HHS has ignored requests from the committee dating back to October. In a letter (PDF) to Secretary Alex Azar, Gowdy claims lawmakers have requested information regarding the agency’s disaster response in Puerto Rico, cost-sharing reduction payments, the ongoing opioid crisis, along with information relevant to HIPAA and HITECH.

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“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,” Gowdy wrote.  

He says HHS promised to provide documents related to HIPAA and HITECH in November but blamed the delay on the holidays. After committing to provide documents and a “robust response” by Jan. 17, the agency has still not complied, Gowdy says.

In another instance, after lawmakers requested a list of guidance documents over the last ten years, agency officials instead produced “generic, publicly-available information of no probative value.”

“This creates the appearance the Department's legislative affairs function has fallen into a state of permanent disrepair,” Gowdy wrote, adding that he has requested the department produce the documents no later than Feb. 5.

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