SEPTEMBER 23, 2009
Disregarding the First Amendment’s right to free speech, the Obama Administration has issued a threatening gag order forbidding health insurance companies from disclosing information to their customers about Medicare cuts under its healthcare overhaul.
Ordered by a powerful Senate Democrat, the government agency that oversees Medicare, the Department of Health and Human Services, warned insurance companies this week that they face legal action for informing seniors about the potential for lost benefits under the legislation being considered by Congress.
The administration’s threat was a response to a letter sent out by one of the nation’s largest insurance companies (Kentucky-based Humana) informing supplemental Medicare insurance customers that their benefits will be reduced under the Democrat’s plan. “Millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable," according to the letter, which also urged customers to contact their representative in Congress.
Obama has indeed proposed a $500 billion slash in Medicare benefits over the next few years in order to pay for his plan, which he says will shift health spending from senior adults to those not currently covered. Additionally, the non-partisan and independent Congressional Budget Office has determined that the administration’s proposed Medicare cuts will significantly reduce seniors’ benefits.
Yet the president and Democratic leaders want to keep citizens in the dark, bullying a government agency that’s supposed to protect the health of all Americans to instead threaten the free flow of valuable information that could compromise that mission. The agency’s stern notice orders insurance companies to “immediately discontinue” mailings or web site postings mentioning the Medicare cuts.
Outraged that the government is muzzling free speech as well as the truth about the health bill, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (Humana’s headquarters) ordered that the Obama Administration gag order be immediately lifted. “First and foremost, this episode should be of serious concern to millions of seniors on Medicare who deserve to know what the government has in mind for their health care,” McConnell said, “but it should also frighten anyone who cherishes their First Amendment right to free speech — whether in Louisville, Helena, San Francisco, or anywhere else.”
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