The government gag-order of Humana speaks volumes about where we are headed under (yes, under) the Obama administration.
The move makes it plain that the Baucus bill can't stand the light of day. The Senate Finance Committee doesn't want Medicare Advantage members to know how the bill would adversely affect their benefits. This attempt at secrecy is consistent with other behavior on the part of the majority of the Senate Finance Committee to keep the provisions of the bill hidden from scrutiny.
Even more troubling is that an American government body would use this tactic.
Mark Tapscott writes:
Once the power [of the individual mandate] is granted, the question becomes how severe will the enforcement be. Fines will suffice, for Obamacare, for now. For Stalin, the first choice was usually the Gulag, or a bullet. It's just a matter of degree.I'm sure some who read the name "Stalin" will proceed to ridicule and shame Mr. Tapscott for his irresponsible and insane rhetoric. Please note that he's not equating Obama with Stalin. He's making a valid point about the heavy hand of big government.
But that is what government always does as it becomes more costly, intrusive and intolerant of dissent. As if to drive the point home, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a gag order this week telling all private companies participating in the Medicare Advantage program to shut up. Violators would face fines and jail time. Forget the First Amendment.Not a crazy question. Why couldn't it happen here? It's the way of the world.
The gag order was issued after Humana Corp. sent a letter to its policyholders who participate in Medicare Advantage telling them the facts about Obamacare's effect on the program. The companies were ordered "to end immediately all such mailings to beneficiaries and to remove any related materials directed to Medicare enrollees from your website."
The bureaucrats added this blunt threat: "Please be advised that we take this matter very seriously and, based upon the findings of our investigation, will pursue compliance and enforcement actions. ...."
Those, my friends, are the words of soft tyranny. How much longer before it becomes a hard tyranny?
The Wall Street Journal wonders why the government doesn't make more use of this handy tactic to silence inconvenient truths about the Baucus bill:
Decide for yourselves just who is really trying to 'mislead and confuse' seniors.
Maybe Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus should put a gag order on Douglas Elmendorf too. On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office director told Mr. Baucus's committee that its plan to cut $123 billion from Medicare Advantage—the program that gives almost one-fourth of seniors private health-insurance options—will result in lower benefits and some 2.7 million people losing this coverage.
Imagine that. Last week Mr. Baucus ordered Medicare regulators to investigate and likely punish Humana Inc. for trying to educate enrollees in its Advantage plans about precisely this fact. Jonathan Blum, acting director of a regulatory office in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said that a mailer Humana sent its customers was "misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, who may believe that it represents official communication about the Medicare Advantage program."
Mr. Blum has also banned all Advantage contractors from telling their customers what Mr. Elmendorf has just told Congress. Mr. Blum happens to be a former senior aide to Mr. Baucus and a health adviser on the Obama transition team.
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