HHS investigates Humana for mailer on ObamaCare

posted at 5:15 pm on September 21, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The Los Angeles Times reports this afternoon that the Department of Health and Human Services has begun an investigation into actions taken by health insurer Humana.  Did they commit claims fraud with Medicare, or unfairly refuse to provide services?   No — they had the temerity to commit the heinous act of free speech with their customers:

The government is investigating a major insurance company for allegedly trying to scare seniors with a mailer warning they could lose important benefits under health care legislation in Congress.

The Health and Human Services Department launched its investigation of Humana after getting a complaint from Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., a senior lawmaker usually viewed as a reliable ally of the insurance industry.

“It is wholly unacceptable 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,” Baucus said Monday, disclosing the HHS investigation.

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is cooperating with the investigation and stopped the mailer earlier this month, company spokesman Tom Noland said Monday.

The Senate committee that Baucus chairs — Finance — will vote this week on a sweeping health care plan that he’s proposed to expand coverage and try to control costs. It would cut Medicare and Medicaid spending by about $500 billion over 10 years, but Baucus says that would lead to greater efficiency, not reduced benefits.

Well, that’s certainly an arguable point, isn’t it?  Just because Baucus says it won’t cut benefits doesn’t make it so.  Humana has the right to make its own case to its customers, and they have the responsibility to weigh the facts and determine who is more correct.  “Senior” doesn’t mean non compos mentis, after all.

In fact, Humana is one of many firms participating in the Medicare Advantage plan, the private-public partnership which 20% of Medicare enrollees use to better manage their medical care and to cover more of their costs.  The Obama administration wants to seriously curtail or end Medicare Advantage — and that’s where a good part of the $500 billion in Medicare cuts originate.  That will strip many seniors of their expanded coverage and force them back to Medicare alone, which they spend good money avoiding at the moment.

It seems to me that Humana is rightly and rationally warning these customers that big and unpleasant changes will be coming with ObamaCare in all its various forms at the moment, including the Baucus plan.  Only a government afraid of its people and afraid of the truth would turn that kind of communication into a crime.  Maybe HHS and the White House should spend a little time re-reading the First Amendment instead of attempting to intimidate people out of the political debate, especially the stakeholders.


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blamegame on September 21, 2009 at 5:20 PM

.
Dude! I can haz?

ronsfi on September 21, 2009 at 6:50 PM

I lived in Montana and there are some great people there, conservative and good Americans, but I could never understand why they keep electing that pompous ass Baucus. It’s time to haul him off to Glacier NP and let him play with the grizzlies. Come on people of Montana, help us out!

hip shot on September 21, 2009 at 6:56 PM

blamegame on September 21, 2009 at 5:19 PM
blamegame on September 21, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Did you miss these? (hint: not aimed at you)
Backing away? I was attempting to be civil, but don’t see the need to reciprocate. You keep poking and trying to elicit a response. I think my post about you running the policy on posting seems to have hit a nerve.

blamegame on September 21, 2009 at 6:57 PM

This is an outrageous attempt at intimidation but have you considered it is pure Alinsky smoke attempting to distract us from something else. There’s a whole pile of crap stewing out there; ACORN, NEA, missile defense, G20, sabre rattling in the sandbox, etc….

TheAdmiral on September 21, 2009 at 6:58 PM

For whom does the bell toll? It tolls for the freedom of speech. signed: Angry Patron

marktarheel on September 21, 2009 at 6:58 PM

Actually, I don’t think I support this story. I’ve been reading that healthcare insurance HAS fired up seniors.

So I’ll stay out of this one.

AnninCA on September 21, 2009 at 5:32 PM

Let’s see, if I’m not wrong this could be:

Bait the hook and throw it in the water.

If the game warden comes along just claim “I’m not fishing, I’m just feeding the fish”.

???? ;-)

Yoop on September 21, 2009 at 7:01 PM

blamegame on September 21, 2009 at 6:57 PM

Thinking is not your strong suit; using cliches is. Some of your sentences–like the one on me ‘running the policy’–don’t make sense, so work on your editing skills.

being Dumb but Stubborn will only get you so far….

Janos Hunyadi on September 21, 2009 at 7:03 PM

Ehy are so many surprised?

There is a Marxist coup underway in America. These people are serious.

Unless or until people finally wake up to that fact and it is put down, government will do pretty much anything it wants.

Dave R. on September 21, 2009 at 7:07 PM

Humana needs to have the cojones to take this to Court and defend the country and capitalism. Seriously if Weinberg Perella had fought on Chrysler secured bonds they might have at least slowed down this takeover…

ginaswo on September 21, 2009 at 7:07 PM

If we had the choice of this company where i work i would sign right up.
Good for them, for standing up to Barry!!!!

mmcnamer1 on September 21, 2009 at 7:08 PM

Why don’t we each just buy one share of Humana? Would that make a difference? Is there a way to combine our buying power to fight this foolishness?

http://heirsinhope.blogspot.com/

Drusilla on September 21, 2009 at 7:11 PM

Humana has the right to make its own case to its customers, and they have the responsibility to weigh the facts and determine who is more correct. “Senior” doesn’t mean non compos mentis, after all.

Good point. I get sick of them talking about seniors like they are doddering old fools; it’s about time someone mentioned that, thanks.

Alana on September 21, 2009 at 7:25 PM

Damn hypocrits. I received an email from the White House TODAY, pimping a 4 minute video of Obama selling his plan. Here’s the text from the email

The details the President outlines in this video are those that every American needs to know. No matter your political party or whether or not you have insurance, his plan for health care security and stability matters to all of us.

Millions of American citizens cannot get health insurance — and 14,000 are losing their insurance every day. If we do nothing, half of Americans under the age of 65 will lose their health insurance at some point in the next ten years.

That’s not right. Plain and simple. For Americans with insurance as well as those without it, inaction is not an option. In America, no one should go broke because they get sick.

Bottom line — health insurance reform will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance, coverage for those who don’t, and will lower the cost of health care for our families, our businesses, and our government.

As the President says, now is the time to deliver the change we need on health care. Forward this email and make sure your family, friends and social networks take four minutes and watch this video.

JackofNoTrades on September 21, 2009 at 7:26 PM

Humana should do the public a service and start sending out the pamphlets again. It will spur debate and in the end, it will accomplish what Humana wants, to kill the bill and keep selling their service.

The Government would actually have to try and defend their position, and we could hope the the out of touch news services would do their part and report both sides.

WoosterOh on September 21, 2009 at 7:38 PM

“It is wholly unacceptable 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,” Baucus said Monday, disclosing the HHS investigation.

Why is it acceptable for the President and the Senate to do it?

drjohn on September 21, 2009 at 7:57 PM

Apparently they stopped the mailings because they had no choice:

“HHS ordered the company to immediately halt any such mailings, and remove any related materials from its Web site. In the letter, the government also said it may take other action against Humana.”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ho4ai2q18tQ9j82kd3N3ltEANRzwD9ART3AG0

Alana on September 21, 2009 at 8:21 PM

Tomorrow HCAN (Healthcare for Americans Now), a MoveOn front group is planning to stage protests at health insurance companies across the country. This ought to be good for a few arrests since no doubt they are going to try and interrupt the operations of the businesses. I don’t think we will see much of it in Atlanta since we are enduring a reenactment of the Great Flood and most liberals are fair weather protesters.

Just A Grunt on September 21, 2009 at 8:26 PM

“HHS ordered the company to immediately halt any such mailings, and remove any related materials from its Web site. In the letter, the government also said it may take other action against Humana.”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5ho4ai2q18tQ9j82kd3N3ltEANRzwD9ART3AG0

Alana on September 21, 2009 at 8:21 PM

By what authority? F*cking Marxists. By what authority?

SirGawain on September 21, 2009 at 8:32 PM

That’s what I’d like to know.

Alana on September 21, 2009 at 9:21 PM

Just wondering, I am a senior if I e-mailed Humana and asked for a copy of this insert would they be allowed to send it to me, as a request, if so maybe they should get many requests, got to beat these weazels.

concernedsenior on September 21, 2009 at 9:33 PM

Investigation is the new freedom of speech by the thin skinned, loser. His blindness is selective. HHS in no one he knows, move along.

meMC on September 21, 2009 at 9:37 PM

First the freedom of speech, then the 2nd amendment, then the 4th amendment, then no elections. Can anyone see a progression here?

flytier on September 21, 2009 at 10:03 PM

By what authority? F*cking Marxists. By what authority?

SirGawain on September 21, 2009 at 8:32 PM

Um…they won? The authority given by a majority of the US voters who handed them the Executive and both houses of the Legislative Branches? It was a mandate to take over the country, including our freedom, wasn’t it? /s

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

For the first time, I’m starting to think the Leftists actually did study at least this part of the Declaration. It seems they are already in the process of doing just what this states.

We are in grave danger.

pannw on September 21, 2009 at 11:24 PM

This is scary, the Democrats are working to control the speech of their political opponents in any way they can.

This censorship is on top of what the Democrats started a few weeks ago where they are stopping Republican Congressmen’s’ messages going out to their constituents if it contains facts the Democrats determined were critical of ObamaCare or anything else Democrat.

RJL on September 22, 2009 at 3:33 AM

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/09/21/look-whos-behind-the-big-insurance-protests/
a capella on September 21, 2009 at 5:38 PM

I love this quote:

The plan for a series of grass-roots demonstrations Tuesday to promote President Obama’s health care agenda calls for tightly scripted events and an “escalation” of efforts against “enemies” of reform.

But Health Care for America Now (HCAN), which is backed by a coalition of labor unions and liberal groups including ACORN and MoveOn.org, organized the protests to target insurance companies and drafted the plan, which describes the demonstrations as part of its “insurance enemies project.”

The best example of ‘Astroturffing’ you’ll see all year.

Phil-351 on September 22, 2009 at 8:05 AM

By what authority? F*cking Marxists. By what authority?

SirGawain on September 21, 2009 at 8:32 PM

They are the govt, that gives them the authority to do whatever they want.

MarkTheGreat on September 22, 2009 at 8:27 AM

Yea!! Lets get this Gestapo Party started!!

Cybergeezer on September 22, 2009 at 9:35 AM

I am so sick of these weasels. I am rereading the tiny mailer from Humana now. It merely states to contact your Members of Congress to let them know what Medicare Advantage means to you and to protect Medicare Advantage funding. How on earth would anyone with any brains think this was a government mailer? I guess I just answered that.
I guess they will turn the IRS on them next.

Gee, I cannot wait to meet the Obamacare death panels. Can I choose the method of offing myself? How about overdoing gourmet food and wine? I am old but not sick yet. Shall I contact Obama for an appointment with my local death panel? Hmm. Who gets to be on the death panels? Are they exempt? Bet they are. Just like the highest rank of all red parties.

If we have to have a communist ruler, I would rather have an honest one who admits what he is: Putin (ex-KGB) is a really tough guy who does not keep lying all the time. Our defense would be better under Putin. What does Soros think? Putin or his hand picked guy? Who would give him more power?

It is so sad. My father’s people were Volga Germans, the ones that did not emigrate in the 20th century were murdered by Stalin. I never dreamed that the tyrant would be reborn and control the USA. We must help those who oppose the tyrants. We must protect the Bill of Rights. Long live Sarah Palin. Long live Glen Beck. Long live Rush Limbaugh. Any others? We must protect our country. God Bless America. God Bless Our Troops.

I am so sick of the degenerates who control everything now. How did we ever let this happen? I now see UN mention of population being a bad culprit of global warming (they will never admit it has been cooling for 10 years). What next> Soylent Green? Yes, I am very angry. Old Patriot here, who does know history and can read and understand documents.

MoGal on September 22, 2009 at 10:00 AM

hip shot on September 21, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Big city people elect people like Baucus.
Which is why we in ND have Dorgan & Conrad.
Another reason that I have noticed, bcs I live among farmers, is farming communities like their freebies from the govt.
They vote conservative on social issues, they vote liberal to keep receiving their goodies.
BTW-thanks all you taxpayers for our new up & coming hi-speed cable/internet.
20 people on our road.
Cost effective?

Badger40 on September 22, 2009 at 10:17 AM

I would like to see one of Humana’s letters.

davod on September 22, 2009 at 2:47 PM

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