Wednesday, September 23, 2009

White House to Insurance Companies - Shut The F**K UP! UPDATED

By now, surely you have heard about the White House threatening a Gag Order on insurance companies, Humana in particular out of KY. Why? Because they dare to tell their members what will happen to Medicare Advantage if the current Health Care Bill goes through. Damn their eyes - what are they thinking, giving their members pertinent information on what can happen to their Medicare Advantage Plan? Sheesh! That takes some nerve, don't it(poor grammar intended)?

But wait, it gets worse. The White House, through Health and Human Services, isn't just telling them to STF up, they are THREATENING Humana and these insurance companies in general:
The government might take enforcement action against insurers that have tried to mobilize opposition to the legislation by sending their enrollees "misleading and confusing" messages, a senior official of the Department of Health and Human Services said in a memo Monday.

The mailings in question urge enrollees to contact their congressional representatives and protest the legislation, the memo said.

A spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, the industry's main lobbying group, issued a statement Tuesday criticizing what he described as the government's "gag order."

"Seniors have a right to know how the current reform proposals will affect the coverage they currently like and rely on," AHIP spokesman Robert Zirkelbach said.

Now, all of us who said that Obama was simply going to take Chicago Politics national, raise your hand. Yep - we were all right. Honestly, though, I'd rather be wrong on this, but that ship has sailed. In essence, the White House is saying, "If we don't like what you're saying, we'll come after you." Nice. Really nice. And we thought Bush was bad. (Remember that? When we were so upset about his "propaganda" through the media? At least he wasn't threatening private companies who didn't agree with his proposed policies. Never thought I'd be defending Bush. See what Obama has done to me?!?!)

But I digress.

Remember when all of Obama's supporters kept touting his legal expertise particularly in terms of the Constitution during the campaign? And I kept saying, "the better to tear it to shreds." Sure seems to me that's exactly what he is trying to do with the First Amendment:
Proposed health reform legislation would sharply reduce funding for Medicare Advantage plans, and the insurance industry has been battling to prevent that from happening. The bill unveiled last week by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, would directly cut payments to Medicare Advantage plans by an estimated $123 billion over 10 years, and it would indirectly reduce funding for those plans by another $15.6 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The big insurer Humana triggered the HHS crackdown with a letter to Medicare enrollees claiming that health reform proposals could hurt "millions of seniors and disabled individuals" who "could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage plans so valuable." The letter was sent in envelopes marked "important information about your Medicare Advantage plan -- open today!"

HHS wrote to Humana last week instructing it to stop the mailings, and it wrote to all Medicare Advantage plans Monday, saying "such communications are potentially contrary to . . . federal law." The government regulates communications between the health plans and their members.

Baucus had urged HHS to crack down on the mailings. (Emphasis mine.)

"It is wholly unacceptable for insurance companies to mislead seniors," he said in a Monday news release. "The health care reform bill we released last week strengthens Medicare and does not cut benefits under the Medicare program -- and seniors need to know that," he said.

The AHIP spokesman countered that if the proposed cuts are enacted, "seniors will face premium increases, reduced benefits, and, in some parts of the country, will lose access to their Medicare Advantage plan altogether."

Humana spokesman Tom Noland said beneficiaries "deserve to know the impact that funding cuts of the magnitude being discussed would have on benefits and premiums."

Peter Johnson provided a VERY good overview of the issue in the video below:

Here's the question this just begs to be asked: If this plan is so great, why is it unable to withstand any real scrutiny without threats of retaliation for stating what is in it? That, to me, is a big, huge red flag that someone is lying here, and it does not seem to be Humana.

Oh, and since I'm on the topic of the Health Care Bill, here is a HUGE issue that may be facing us if this plan, as it is, goes through:

Holy toledo. So, a gag order to insurance companies for telling the truth, and another possible truth we're not hearing enough about - there likely will not be enough doctors to care for us under this new plan. Yep, no more First Amendment, and not enough doctors willing to provide care under this plan.

Well,that's just jake.

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