Monday, September 13, 2010

Sebelius: Stop blaming Obamacare or else

It seems HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius is upset with insurance companies warning patients of impending rate hikes in the wake of passage of the Affordable Care Act. Here's the warning letter she sent. It's rich. It reads in part:

It has come to my attention that several health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act. I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases...

Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protection.

(By the way, why would you want to blame increased profits on anything? She must have been smokin' steamin' mad when she fired off the letter).

So they'll have zero tolerance for particular attributions made by insurance companies about their rates and won't stand idly by??? So what are they going to do? It seems to me they'd have some free speech issues to contend with. I'd love to see them try something.

Here's an excerpt from Wesley Smith's post on this topic:

Obamacare prohibits companies from underwriting for different health conditions and requires them to accept all comers. That will require premiums for many policies to go up, or the whole thing will become economically unfeasible. Besides, the insurance industry is already regulated, and that includes the amount of premiums they can charge.

That point aside, this is really outlandish and unacceptable bullying from a high government official–particularly when reliable reports indicate that Obamacare will cause costs to increase. That is a debatable point to be sure, but one insurance companies should be able to make in a free country without fear of government retaliation.

Threatening to put companies out of business–because that is what would happen if they couldn’t participate in the exchanges–for expressing perspectives the government doesn’t approve or seeking to make a profits in a difficult market made worse by Obamacare, is beyond the pale and has no place in a free and open society.

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