Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Republican Leaders Rush to Defend Insurer Humana from "Gag Order" | TPMMuckraker

...the Obama administration is investigating the activities of health insurance giant Humana--a participant in Medicare Advantage that's been telling its aging consumers that the government plans to slash benefits as it reforms the U.S. health care system, and urging them to tell Congress not to touch the program.

Medicare Advantage plans are private health care plans that seniors can buy into with federal assistance in lieu of participating in traditional Medicare, and under terms the government erected, those insurers face strict limits on how they communicate to beneficiaries. The regulations exist to protect seniors from acting under the pressures of their insurers, who control their benefits. In response to a request from Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services has demanded the lobbying effort cease, and is investigating the company to determine whether it violated those rules.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who represents Humana's home state of Kentucky, and has received tens of thousands of dollars from the company over the years, called the CMS actions a "gag order"--a characterization that has been echoed by House Minority Leader John Boehner and Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI)--ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee--who fired off an angry letter to CMS acting administrator Charlene Frizzera.

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