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OSC announcement : dr Bright

A librarian contacted the Office of Special Counsel to ask if they would be making public its determination on their website or in some form of a publication that Dr. Bright’s superiors inappropriately removed him from his position as reported in the news. Their response was that they could neither confirm nor deny since it is an ongoing investigation.

According to Newsweek, Bright’s lawyers announced that the OSC informed them that Health and Human Services violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by ousting Dr. Bright.

FEDERAL WATCHDOG RECOMMENDS VACCINE EXPERT AND CORONAVIRUS WHISTLEBLOWER RICK BRIGHT BE REINSTATED DAYS BEFORE TESTIMONY SET TO BEGIN

Trump to replace Health Inspector General

Trump to replace Health Inspector General who criticized coronavirus response, BY GRACE SEGERS, MAY 2, 2020 / 4:47 PM / CBS NEWS
‘President Trump announced his intent to nominate a new inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), weeks after acting inspector general Christi Grimm released a report detailing shortages of testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) in hospitals responding to the coronavirus pandemic… Mr. Trump criticized Grimm in early April, calling the findings in her report “wrong.”‘
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-christi-grimm-trump-to-replace-health-inspector-general-who-criticized-coronavirus-response/

Hospital Experiences Responding to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Results of a National Pulse Survey March 23-27, 2020 WHAT WE FOUND Hospitals reported that their most significant challenges centered on testing and caring for patients with COVID-19 and keeping staff safe. Hospitals said that severe shortages of testing supplies and extended waits for test results limited hospitals’ ability to monitor the health of patients and staff. They also reported that widespread shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) put staff and patients at risk. In addition, hospitals said that they were not always able to maintain adequate staffing levels or to offer staff adequate support.
https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-06-20-00300.asp?utm_source=web&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=covid-19-hospital-survey-04-06-2020

Report: https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-06-20-00300.pdf

The U.S Government Offices has cataloged and made available to the public. https://permanent.fdlp.gov/gpo135372/oei-06-20-00300.pdf

co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.

Dr. Bright

On Politics: ‘Politics and Cronyism Ahead of Science’. New York: New York Times Company. Apr 23, 2020.
“Is President Trump putting “politics and cronyism ahead of science”? Those were the words chosen by Rick Bright, the doctor who had been leading the federal effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine. This week he was removed from that position at the Department of Health and Human Services and reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health, Bright said. He had resisted Trump’s efforts to direct government money toward hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug that some have pushed as a viable coronavirus treatment despite a lack of thorough vetting by medical researchers. Bright says he thinks this is what led to his ouster.”

‘”I believe this transfer was in response to my insistence that the government invest the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the Covid-19 pandemic into safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit,” Bright said in a statement to The Times. Although it did not name Trump directly, the letter made clear Bright’s dissatisfaction with how he had been treated by the administration, even before he was removed from his post. “I am speaking out because to combat this deadly virus, science – not politics or cronyism – has to lead the way,” he said.’
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/23/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-rick-bright.html

The HHS official overseeing coronavirus vaccine development says he was ousted after his objections to hydroxychloroquine. By Aaron Rupar, Apr 22, 2020, 6:20pm EDT “In the letter, first reported by the New York Times, Bright demanded the Department of Health and Human Services Inspector General investigate whether his demotion to a lesser role with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stemmed from political or financial motives instead of public health ones. (Trump has a small investment in a company that manufactures Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine, and numerous wealthy Republican donors who are close with Trump have larger financial stakes in hydroxychloroquine drugs.)”
https://www.vox.com/2020/4/22/21231763/dr-rick-bright-fired-hhs-hydroxychloroquine-coronavirus-vaccine-trump

Dr. Bright’s statement is contained in the Rupar article and links to Maggie Haberman’s tweet: https://twitter.com/JDiamond1/status/1253056646802214912/photo/1

Today Dr Bright’s attorney’s stated he would be filing a whistleblower complaint.

co-published on govdoc-l and freegovinfo.info.

LGBT Questions Removed From HHS Surveys

The Center for American Progress reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has eliminated questions about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from two critical surveys. This policy decision will make it impossible to assess whether key programs for seniors and people with disabilities are meeting the needs of LGBT Americans.

The surveys affected are the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and the annual Program Performance Report for Centers for Independent Living.

HHS Appeals Ruling That Would Give Consumers More Access to Physician Medicare Claims Database

According to an article in today’s Los Angeles Times, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice have appealed a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that would give consumers more access to Medicare healthcare data.

Specifically, the August 2007 ruling, based on a FOIA request and then a subsequent lawsuit by the advocacy group Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services, would have allowed disclosure of a subset of Medicare billing records for four states (Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington) and the District of Columbia. The information requested would not have contained any patient identifying information, but could have potentially allowed consumers to get more understanding of the operations of Medicare and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), as well as make decisions about physician expertise and efficiency, according to the Times. As the judge’s decision put it, “The public interest at stake is the interest in obtaining information that would help the public make more informed Medicare decisions and the interest in more information of how government funds are spent.”

However, the American Medical Association opposed the ruling, and has also petitioned to join the appeal. The HHS appeal is based on a 1979 federal court ruling that blocked release of Medicare physician reimbursement data. HHS states that it shares the goals of Consumers’ Checkbook in providing a transparent health care marketplace for consumers, but says that the 1979 ruling conflicts with the 2007 ruling. Observers quoted in the Times article said that the HHS was under pressure from the AMA to keep the data from being released and that it wasn’t just a matter of conflicting legal opinions.

The HHS news release announcing its decision to join the DOJ appeal against release of Medicare data is here.

Last summer’s ruling on the release of the data is here.

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