The Bush Administration: You report, we fire you:

Democrats called Saturday for an investigation of charges that the Bush administration threatened to fire a top Medicare official if he gave data to Congress showing the high costs of hotly contested Medicare legislation. The official, Richard S. Foster, chief actuary of the Medicare program, said he had been formally told not to provide the information to Congress. Moreover, he said, he was told that “the consequences of insubordination would be very severe.”

Senior officials at the Medicare agency made it clear that “they would try and fire me” for responding directly to inquiries from Congress, Mr. Foster said in an interview on Saturday. Mr. Foster said he had received that message from Thomas A. Scully, who was then administrator of the Medicare program. Mr. Scully denies threatening Mr. Foster but confirms having told him to withhold certain information from Congress.

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