Daily Archives: September 12, 2010

GAO Exposes Misleading Obamacare Claims

Well it looks like Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services, has been overstating the benefits of Obamacare, and threatening insurance companies who criticize it with removal from the roster.    

It all started about a year ago.  A Humana Mailer brochure was mailed to Medicare Advantage seniors warning them of the tightening reins on Medicare with Obamacare looming.

Leading health reform proposals being considered in Washington, D.C., this summer include billions in Medicare Advantage funding cuts, as well as spending reductions to original Medicare and Medicaid. While these programs need to be made more efficient, if the proposed funding cut levels become law, millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable.

Medicare was not pleased.  They initiated an investigation of Humana.  Misleading and Confusing Plan Communications to Enrollees Memo from CMS.  

Please be advised that we take this matter very seriously and, based upon the findings of our investigation, will pursue compliance and enforcement actions.

Unable to leave that Humana letter unanswered, HHS made its own brochure and promptly mailed it to Seniors.  But the veracity went tested.  GAO Finds Sebelius Misleading Taxpayers on Health Reform.  Fox Business.   

For example, the GAO says the brochure fails to note that reform actually delivers cuts to the Medicare program, increases Medicare prescription premiums, and cuts payment to doctors. 

The GAO also says the Sebelius brochure made misleading statements about health reform making “improvements” to Medicare Advantage, and that the brochure does not cite the $123 billion in estimated cuts over a ten-year period to Medicare Advantage, which provides services beyond regular Medicare offerings. Medicare Advantage is the private options that about one in five Medicare beneficiaries enroll in.   

And the GAO says the brochure fails to note that “two government analyses have determined that [health reform] reductions in funding for Medicare Advantage may decrease enrollment and result in less generous benefit packages.”The GAO also says the brochure misleadingly tells Medicare recipients that health reform “increases the number of primary care doctors, nurses, and physician assistants” enrolled in Medicare, when in fact, reform only provides incentives for those doctors to voluntarily join or stay in Medicare.

The GAO also says the brochure misleadingly refers to new programs as being available for Medicare recipients, when they are not eligible for these offerings.The GAO also says the brochure fails to acknowledge what the 2010 Medicare Trustees Report says, “that while the financial outlook for the Medicare program is substantially improved as a result of” reform, “the feasibility of long-range improvements is still uncertain, and significant increases in premiums for some beneficiaries may be necessary.”  

But if it isn’t bad enough having the GAO publicly cross check your claims, then apparently it is worse if insurers  publicly clamor because of the rising costs, cutbacks in services, and increased premiums we all pay as a result 0f Obamacare.  They have started to drop policies.  Obamacare bureacracy effect on people is manifesting.

Now Obamacare creators are miffed that any insurer dare practice freedom of speech.   

HHS to insurers: Don’t blame us for your rates.  AP/Yahoo.     

the administration won’t tolerate blaming premium hikes on the new health overhaul law.     

“There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a letter to the insurance lobby.   

“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 protections,” Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They’d lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.     

 Sebelius: insurers who criticize ObamaCare may get locked out of system.  HA.    

Rarely have we heard a Cabinet official tell Americans to stay out of political debates at the risk of losing their businesses.  It points out the danger in having government run industries and holding a position where politicians can actually destroy a business out of spite.  It also demonstrates the thin skin of our current administration, where Hope and Change means keeping your mouth shut and pretending that everyone is happy while businesses slowly circle the drain.  

Oddly enough, Senator Max Baucus might take his own words a little more seriously.   

“It is wholly inappropriate for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject—particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health-care reform,” Mr. Baucus said in a statement yesterday, playing the role of Congressional censor. “The health-care reform bill we released last week strengthens Medicare and does not cut benefits covered under the Medicare program—and seniors need to know that.”   

Message.  Speak up, and ye shall be sanctioned.