You will write what I say!
The Times Dispatch editorial staff NAILS it, calling the Obama administration’s latest heavyhanded tactics in Obamacare implementation “contemptible”:
The Wall Street Journal reports that “health insurance companies must tell customers who get a premium rebate this summer that the check is the result of the Obama administration’s health-care law, according to federal guidelines released [recently]. The move is the latest sign the Obama administration is trying to draw attention to the law’s benefits before the fall elections.”
Granted, politicians pat themselves on the back all the time. Usually, however, they do so on their own dime; they do not force others to do it for them. The directive raises First Amendment concerns.
It also stands in contrast to the administration’s reaction when insurance companies pinned rate hikes on health-care reform. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius promptly fired off a cease-and-desist letter: “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,” she wrote to the head of an insurance group. “I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.”
Just to make sure the implied threat came through clearly, she added that the administration “will not stand idly by” if insurers continued to make such claims, and might lock out from state-run insurance exchanges any company that raised premiums more than the administration considered reasonable.
There’s little doubt that Obamacare will drive up premiums, since it imposes a host of mandated benefits. MIT economist Jonathan Gruber contended otherwise in 2009, and his analysis was widely cited by supporters of the legislation. But Gruber now admits insurance premiums could rise as much as 30 percent more than they would absent Obamacare. Oops.
Even if the claim that the law will raise premiums were highly dubious, the administration was wrong to try to intimidate insurance companies into silence. Nevertheless, it did so. And now it is forcing those same insurance companies to give it the credit for any premium reductions. There are other words besides “contemptible” to describe such edicts, but most of them are not printable in a family newspaper.
This follows on a report at Reason that the Obama White House aka “The Most Open and Transparent Administration in History” has been confiscating cell phones from attendees at fundraising dinners where politics are discussed.
I think we are learning what happens to those who exercise their first amendment rights in the current administration. Best wishes to the Times Dispatch Editorial Staff.