To combat this reality, the Obama administration struck back last Friday. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent a letter to America’s Health Insurance Plans warning them that “there will be zero tolerance” for “falsely blaming premium increases” on Obamacare.
Here is the Sebelius gag order to Humana for daring to put information on its website to inform its current customers (not new ones, and not some mass mailing to Medicare recipients) of how the ObamaCare law would impact them:
“We are concerned that the materials Humana sent to our beneficiaries may violate Medicare rules by appearing to contain Medicare Advantage and prescription drug benefit information, which must be submitted to CMS for review” said Jonathan Blum, acting director of CMS’ Center for Drug and Health Plan Choices. “We also are asking that no other plan sponsors are mailing similar materials while we investigate whether a potential violation has occurred.”
So you would not be surprised to learn that when others make similar comments and overtures that the Obama Administration would bring the hammer down on them too? Here is the threat the government made to the New York City Teachers Union, which is making noise that the ObamaCare policy that eliminates the caps on coverage will lead to reductions in access to care and benefits:
… representation that providing $750,000 in coverage for prescription drugs for 2011 would result in a significant decrease in your access to benefits.”
The UFT notice, posted on its Web site, explained that providing insurance would be cost-prohibitive without the waiver.
“To maximize the [Welfare] Fund’s resources, the Fund must prudently manage and administer these programs,” the notice said. “One way of accomplishing this is by establishing reasonable annual dollar limits on benefits, such as prescription drugs. The Affordable Care Act requires plans to remove these annual limits. Without an increase in the Fund’s fixed contribution rate, which is highly improbable at this time, it would not be able to sustain benefits in excess of the current annual limits.”
Did I say threat? Here is what actually happened:
Under the law, the Department of Health and Human Services is now phasing the coverage limits out. In 2011, yearly caps can be no less than $750,000; in 2012, they can be no less than $1.25 million; and in 2013, they can be no less than $2 million in 2013.The waivers granted to the UFT locals exempt them from having to comply with the phasing out of the annual benefits caps. A total of 351,000 enrollees are in the UFT’s health insurance plan, the UTF Welfare Fund.
This is an outrage. Mr. President, are you sure you understand why the streets of Cairo are filled right now?