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Sec. Sebelius Making a Santa List: Which Insurers Naughty, Which Nice

John on September 13, 2010 at 8:07 am

Last week Secretary Sebelius wrote a letter to the head lobbyist for the insurance industry saying that letters to clients which blame ObamaCare for rate increases will not be tolerated:

It has come to my attention that several health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act.  I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.

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Later this fall, we will issue a regulation that will require state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases filed by health insurers, with the justification for increases posted publicly for consumers and employers.  We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014.

Look, I don’t want to pretend that some private insurers might not use any excuse to justify charging more. Fair enough. But the solution for speech you don’t like is more speech, not silencing one’s opponents with threats. This should be especially true when the power of the government is involved. In fact, what Sebelius has done here come perilously close to censorship. What else do you call it when the government tells a private entity what they can and can not say in letters to their own clients?

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