"Simply stated, we will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections," Sebelius said. She warned that bad actors may be excluded from new health insurance markets that will open in 2014 under the law. They'd lose out on a big pool of customers, as many as 30 million people nationwide.So the US government is openly threatening to hamstring private companies simply for explaining why they will be charging more for their services. Isn't this baldfaced blackmail? And a direct violation of the First Amendment? Even more outrageous is that the administration admits that Obamacare will raise premiums:
Although the law's big expansion of coverage under the law won't take place until 2014, several new benefits go into effect starting later this month. Lifetime dollar caps on coverage are abolished, and plans must allow parents to keep their children on the policy up to age 26. Many plans will also have to guarantee coverage for children regardless of a medical condition, and provide preventive care with no cost-sharing for the patient.
The administration estimates that those new benefits will raise premiums by no more than 1 to 2 percent. Major benefit consulting companies say the impact will be in the single digits, although it may vary considerably from plan to plan. [emphasis mine]
Even granting for disagreement over how much of the premium increases are due to Obamacare, it's clear that Obamacare is causing a hike in health care premiums. A company has every right to point that out, and Sebelius' response is way out of line, not to mention that it reinforces the emerging image of a thin-skinned Obama administration that lashes out at any perceived criticism.
Elsewhere in the AP article, Sebelius speaks of the "scare tactics" being used to explain "unjustified rate increases."
Scare tactics? Newsflash: Obamacare has already passed. No amount of public fear is going to change that reality.
Unjustified rate increases? Another newsflash: It's a free country. Private companies have a right to set rates at whatever level they like, and to justify, or not justify, them however they please. It's called capitalism.
This may seem like nitpicking, but as Obama said in his campaign, "words matter." The language being used by those in this administration reveals an insidious shift in the way we are coming to view our country and the role of its government. When did it become acceptable for government to decide what products a company must offer, what they must look like, and how much they will cost?
Or for that matter, when did it become acceptable for a president to demand that we increase taxes because it "costs too much" to allow Americans to keep their own money? Where did we get the idea that citizens have "constitutional rights" to other people's property? How did we come to accept the notion that letting someone keep the fruits of their own labor is "giveaway?"
Update: Ed Morrissey:
Rarely have we heard a Cabinet official tell Americans to stay out of political debates at the risk of losing their businesses. It points out the danger in having government run industries and holding a position where politicians can actually destroy a business out of spite. It also demonstrates the thin skin of our current administration, where Hope and Change means keeping your mouth shut and pretending that everyone is happy while businesses slowly circle the drain.