Monday, September 13, 2010

Self-Contradictory

FLG has major concerns about health care reform, concerns he believes are shared by around half the population. Kathleen Sebelius is apparently pissed that insurance companies are claiming that they're going to have to raise rates. In a letter to the industry, she writes:
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.

She then writes:
The Affordable Care Act includes a number of provisions to provide Americans with access to health coverage that will be there when they need it. These provisions were fully supported by AHIP and its member companies. Many of the legislation's key protections take effect for plan or policy years beginning on or after September 23, 2010. All plans must comply with provisions such as no lifetime limits, no rescissions except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact, and coverage of most adult children up to age 26. New plans must comply with additional provisions, such as coverage of preventive services with no cost sharing, access to OB / GYNs without referrals, restrictions on annual limits on coverage, a prohibition on pre-existing condition exclusions of children (which applies to all group health plans), access to out-of-network emergency room services, and a strengthened appeals process. And health plans that cover early retirees could qualify for reinsurance to sustain that coverage for businesses, workers, and retirees alike.

Sounds great, but unlike Sec. Sebelius I took and paid attention in Econ 101. There's this whole no such thing as a free lunch idea that means somebody has to pay for all those things she wants to take credit for. A fact that she acknowledges:
According to our analysis and those of some industry and academic experts, any potential premium impact from the new consumer protections and increased quality provisions under the Affordable Care Act will be minimal. We estimate that that the effect will be no more than one to two percent. This is consistent with estimates from the Urban Institute (1 to 2 percent) and Mercer consultants (2.3 percent) as well as some insurers' estimates. Pennsylvania's Highmark, for example, estimates the effect of the legislation on premiums from 1.14 to 2 percent. Moreover, the trends in health costs, independent of the legislation, have slowed. Employers' premiums for family coverage increased by only 3 percent in 2010 – a significant drop from previous years.

Well, fuck me sideways. That sure sounds like she just admitted "premium increases for 2011" are due to "patient protections in the Affordable Care Act."

It's a good thing FLG doesn't work for the industry because his response would be as follows:

Dear Sec. Sebelius:

You are either a buffoon or partisan hack, although those aren't mutually exclusive. Your letter is self-contradictory and frankly you ain't got no juice on this matter. Please go fuck yourself.

Have a great day.

Sincerely,
FLG

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Michael Barone sees her as something a tad worse - from yesterday - (Oh and keep your eyes on that courthouse in Florida today):

But Sebelius has "zero tolerance" for that kind of thing. She promises to issue regulations to require "state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases" (which would presumably mean all rate increases).

And there's a threat. "We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: Those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014."

That's a significant date, the first year in which state insurance exchanges are slated to get a monopoly on the issuance of individual health insurance policies. Sebelius is threatening to put health insurers out of business in a substantial portion of the market if they state that Obamacare is boosting their costs.

"Congress shall make no law," reads the First Amendment, "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press."

Sebelius' approach is different: "zero tolerance" for dissent.

The threat to use government regulation to destroy or harm someone's business because they disagree with government officials is thuggery. Like the Obama administration's transfer of money from Chrysler bondholders to its political allies in the United Auto Workers, it is a form of gangster government.

"The rule of law, or the rule of men (women)?" economist Tyler Cowen asks on his marginalrevolution.com blog. As he notes, "Nowhere is it stated that these rate hikes are against the law (even if you think they should be), nor can this 'misinformation' be against the law."

According to Politico, not a single Democratic candidate for Congress has run an ad since last April that makes any positive reference to Obamacare. The First Amendment gives candidates the right to talk -- or not talk -- about any issue they want.

But that is not enough for Sebelius and the Obama administration. They want to stamp out negative speech about Obamacare. "Zero tolerance" means they are ready to use the powers of government to threaten economic harm on those who dissent.

The closing paragraph of Sebelius' letter to AHIP's Karen Ignagni gives the game away. "We worked hard to change the system to help consumers." This is a reminder that the administration alternatively collaborated with and criticized Ignagni's organization. We roughed you up a little but we eventually made a deal.

The secretary goes on: "It is my hope we can work together to stop misinformation and misleading marketing from the start." In other words, shut your members up and play team ball -- or my guys with the baseball bats and tommy guns are going to get busy. As Tyler Cowen puts it, "worse than I had been expecting."


Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/politics/Gangster-government-stifles-criticism-of-Obamacare-811664-102642044.html#ixzz0zW0P2ImZ

Mrs. P

 
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