Obama Administration Tramples On First Amendment: Issues Gag Order To Insurance Companies

I got laid off from my job last Wednesday and have been busy doing things like getting doctor appointments for my family before my medical benefits run out at the end of the month as well as trying to find a new job with benefits so that I don’t have to come up with a way of paying off a $1200/month COBRA payment on limited income.

Anyway, I know I’ve missed a few pretty big news stories since then, but I will try to get them in here as soon as possible.

Right now, I’d like to look at the latest action by the Obama administration. As I recall, Obama said he wanted a good debate about health care reform. If so, then why is he trying to silence those who want to get good infomation out to the people that will be most affected by it?

From the Washington Post:

The federal government has ordered health insurers to stop telling Medicare beneficiaries that proposed health reform legislation could hurt seniors and jeopardize their benefits.

The government might take enforcement action against insurers that have tried to mobilize opposition to the legislation by sending their enrollees “misleading and confusing” messages, a senior official of the Department of Health and Human Services said in a memo Monday.

The “messages” in question very correctly note that under HR3200, Medicare benefits to seniors will be reduced. Obama and the Democrats have already publically admitted this in their attempt to show that socialized medicine will not add to the defecit.

So, why the gag order? Why worry about the insuarance companies repeating exactly what Obama and the Democrats have already said?

Proposed health reform legislation would sharply reduce funding for Medicare Advantage plans, and the insurance industry has been battling to prevent that from happening. The bill unveiled last week by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, would directly cut payments to Medicare Advantage plans by an estimated $123 billion over 10 years, and it would indirectly reduce funding for those plans by another $15.6 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

And Obama does not want people to know about this? This leads to an even bigger question. Why stifle the debate? Why suppress the very same information that Obama and the Dems have publically acknowledged?

Unless the ultimate goal is to control the debate by controlling the information, nothing else makes sense.

You can access the complete article on-line here:

Insurers Criticize Administration ‘Gag Order’
David S. Hilzenrath
Washington Post
September 22, 2009

6 Responses

  1. Interesting topic. Since lying is generally either libel or slander, which are illegal, it wouldn’t violate the 1st Amendment to order it to stop.

    • There is no lying on the part of the insurance companies. They are simply repeating that which the Democrats and Obama have already admitted to: Medicare benefits will be reduced under HR3200 and under the Baucus plan. Thus, the gag order is very much a violation of the First Amendment.

  2. Ben, where to begin?

    First of all, not all lying is libel or slander. Lying is not even “generally” libel or slander. Libel is a “false and unprivileged publication in writing of defamatory material.” Slander is “the speaking of false and malicious words concerning another, whereby injury results to his reputation.” So, while lying is an element of both libel and slander, lying is not “generally libel or slander.” That’s like saying that crust is generally pizza.

    Secondly, libel and slander are not “illegal”; you can’t be arrested for them. While you may be sued for libel and slander, that doesn’t make them illegal. In fact, there are very strict legal protections against prior restraint of speech under the first amendment.

    I agree with 84rules: the gag order is very much a violation of the First Amendment.

  3. I am very sorry to her about your unemploymetn. I hope it does not last very long.

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