With elections just weeks away, the Administration is doing everything it can to finesse Obamacare into looking as good as possible. But, like the old saying goes, you can’t put lipstick on a pig.
Recent calculations as to the health plan’s cost have been less than rosy. Both the CBO and the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services have shown that the Democrats’ healthcare bill will do little to keep federal costs down.
The latest report, compiled by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that not only has the bill failed to live up to promises. The promises themselves are misleading. Even worse, the government is using taxpayer money to pay for their misleading information campaign.
In order to convince the American people what a great piece of legislation Obamacare really was, the Administration sent a mailer to seniors. Among the promises the mailer contained were:
- “The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress…will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality of care.”
- “Your Medicare benefits won’t change”
- “Your choice of doctors will be preserved”
But after examining the pamphlet the GAO states that “the brochure overstates some of [the Democrats’ health overhaul’s] benefits.”
“In our view, the brochure presents a picture of [the healthcare bill] that is not universally shared. For example, two government analyses have determined that [the Democrats’ legislation] reductions in funding for Medicare Advantage may decrease enrollment and result in less generous benefit packages,” and “significant increases in premiums for some beneficiaries may be necessary.”
The fact that such misinformation was spread using taxpayer dollars is absurd in and of itself. What’s worse, while promoting their own views, Democrats are snuffing out any who disagree.
The latest assault comes from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius who wrote to Karen Ignagni, president of America’s Health Insurance Plans, demanding insurers stop using “misinformation and scare tactics.” There will be “zero tolerance for this type of misinformation” she continues.
Sebelius is responding to a number of health insurers who have asked for rate increases between 1 percent and 9 percent for 2011. What she fails to grasp is that the increase is required to pay for extra benefits required under the Democrats’ healthcare plan.
So why does she threaten the insurers attempt to break even? Because, as she says, “according to our analysis and those of some industry and academic experts, any potential premium impact…will be minimal.” The troubling word there is “some.” Some industry experts believe that the costs of compliance will be small. This implies that others believe there will be substantial compliance costs that would then be passed on to the consumer. After all it doesn’t take a genius to realize that increased benefits lead to additional costs which would drive up the cost of plans.
That word, “some,” has frightening implications. As Eugene Volokh, UCLA professor of law, wrote on his blog,
If the Administration is threatening to use its considerable regulatory power to retaliate against insurance companies that, in the Administration’s view, are conveying “misinformation” — for instance, because their financial analyses disagree with the Administration’s financial analyses — that strikes me as quite troubling. . .
[E]ven if such action would be constitutionally permissible, it would be quite troubling, as would threats that seem to hint as such action: It would involve the Administration’s deliberately trying to suppress criticism of its policies, under a “misinformation” standard that sounds highly subjective and politically contestable.
What it sounds like Sebelius is trying to say is that there will be “zero tolerance” for dissent. I understand why Democrats would be afraid of differing views. We were all led to believe that our premiums and the federal government’s total outlays would be lowered by the Democrats’ plan. Sadly, those realities are not going to come true. Rather than own up to the law’s failings, Democrats are stifling criticism and using taxpayer money to promote a rosier picture of the bill. That is something that I, and voters, should have zero tolerance for.
by Brandon Greife, Political Director of the College Republican National Committee