Monday, September 21, 2009

HHS investigates Humana for criticizing Obamacare

Humana sent seniors a mailer warning them that the planned $500 billion in medicare cuts could affect their benefits. They urged seniors to contact their Congressman.
The Humana mailer focused squarely on the Medicare Advantage program.

"While these programs need to be made more efficient, if the proposed funding cut levels become law, millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable," it said...

The HHS took offense at Humana exercising their free speech rights.
HHS ordered the company to immediately halt any such mailings, and remove any related materials from its Web site. In the letter, the government also said it may take other action against Humana.

Here is a screen shot of the mailer. Click image for a larger view.

PDF of full mailer is here.

Although there is nothing misleading about this mailer, HHS alleged that seniors were so senile they would mistake the mailer for an official Medicare communication.
In a warning letter to Humana, HHS said the government is concerned that the mailer "is misleading and confusing" partly because the company's lobbying campaign could be mistaken for an official communication about Medicare benefits.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., was outraged.
"It is wholly unacceptable for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject — particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health care reform," Baucus said Monday, disclosing the HHS investigation.

Sen. Max Baucus, just because you don't think the Medicare cuts will lead to benefit cuts doesn't make it the indisputable truth. The government has no right to censor communications between companies and their customers as long as no law is broken.

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