WASHINGTON, D.C. — The White House in early September released 250 boxes of records created by the more than 500 persons who worked with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health care task force in 1993 in drafting health care reforms.
The records show that in talking points the White House referred to the task force as “the most open policy-making process in history,” the Washington Post reported, noting repeated criticism that the administration had brought in hundreds of people to draft policy in private.
The release came after three physician groups who had sued for disclosure of the records under the Federal Advisory Committee Act failed to reach a settlement with the Clinton administration on all matters that arose during the litigation.
Their lawsuit, brought in early 1993 in federal district court in Washington, D.C., contended that the health care task force, composed of high level government officials and Hillary Clinton, was an advisory board with meetings that were required to be open under the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and several other media groups filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging that the task force and its subgroups meet in public because of the widespread public interest in the work.
A federal appeals court in the District of Columbia ruled in June 1993 that the task force was not an advisory committee because neither Mrs. Clinton nor the officials could be considered government “outsiders.” However, the appeals panel left open the question of whether the many non-government people called in to advise the task force were covered by the advisory act. In November a federal district judge found that the act required that their meetings and records be open.
Records are available for inspection and copying from the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C.
A spokesman for the physicians groups called the release “too little, too late,” the Post reported. (Association of American Physicians v. Clinton)
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.