Does ObamaCare trump the First Amendment? HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius must think so. Yesterday, after apparently tiring of criticism of the new law from the companies it will eventually put out of business, Sebelius offered to expedite that process for those who don’t take an opportunity to shut their mouths:
President Barack Obama’s top health official on Thursday warned the insurance industry that 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.
By those standards, Sebelius would have to exclude Medicare as well. Four months ago, Medicare — which is under Sebelius’ authority — released a highly misleading brochure about the impact ObamaCare has on its consumers. It stated that Medicare Advantage patients would “still receive guaranteed Medicare benefits,” which was never in question, but made it sound as though they would suffer no reduction in services or benefits from the $500 billion in cuts to the program. It also bragged about changes in ObamaCare that had nothing to do with Medicare, including the mandate that insurers keep “children” on family policies until age 26 — a provision that does not include Medicare, for obvious reasons.
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.
Of course, maybe Sebelius won’t go as far as to lock them out of the state exchanges for disputing the Official Smiley-Face Rhetoric Enforcement Squad at HHS. Perhaps she’ll just send them to a re-education facility instead.