Monday, September 13, 2010

Zero Tolerance for ObamaCare Dissent at HHS

Last week, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sibelius sent a chilling message to Karen Ignagni, the top lobbyist for America's health insurance industry.  Her message (from the HHS website funded by American taxpayers) states, in part:
Dear Ms. Ignagni:

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. (emphasis added)
When the peerless, acute-thinking Michael Barone issues a warning that a member of the executive branch has overstepped, it is time to take notice.  From Townhall  (H/T
"There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases."

That sounds like a stern headmistress dressing down some sophomores who have been misbehaving. But it's actually from a letter sent Thursday from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans -- the chief lobbyist for private health insurance companies.

Sebelius objects to claims by health insurers that they are raising premiums because of increased costs imposed by the Obamacare law passed by Congress last March.

She acknowledges that many of the law's "key protections" take effect later this month and does not deny that these impose additional costs on insurers. But she says that "according to our analysis and those of some industry and academic experts, any potential premium impact ... will be minimal."

Well, that's reassuring. Er, except that if that's the conclusion of "some" industry and academic experts, it's presumably not the conclusion of all industry and academic experts, or the secretary would have said so.

Sebelius also argues that "any premium increases will be moderated by out-of-pocket savings resulting from the law." But she's pretty vague about the numbers -- "up to $1 billion in 2013." Anyone who watches TV ads knows that "up to" can mean zero.
Read the whole thing.  I think Barone is being too soft on Sibelius.  Rather than a stern headmistress, her self-righteous antics remind me of another health care dictator from the movies.   Nurse Ratched:

The difference is, unlike the residents under Nurse Ratched's "care", we Americans still have a voice and a choice.  At least for now.

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