GOP Ups Ante in Support of Humana’s Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda

September 25, 2009

(ChattahBox)—On Thursday, top Republican leaders, including Rep. John Boehner (OH) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY), upped the ante in their continuing support of a taxpayer funded propaganda campaign waged, by Humana Health Insurance against their elderly and disabled subscribers to Medicare Advantage.

McConnell and his gang of big health insurance company apologists, demanded that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, lift the “gag order” on Humana, so the company could continue misleading seniors, or they would filibuster any HHS nominees requiring Senate approval.

The controversy began over Humana’s letter opposing health care reform, sent to its Medicare Advantage members warning that, “millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable.”

The Humana website also allowed users to send form emails to members of Congress, opposing cuts to Medicare Advantage.

Humana opposes the plan by lawmakers to reduce waste in the Advantage plan, because it would dip into the company’s profits. Lawmakers say the plans are paid about 14 percent more than it costs to provide benefits to patients.

The company’s propaganda campaign, caught the attention of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Humana receives federal monies to operate Medicare Advantage and must comply with federal law when sending official communications about the Medicare Advantage program. CMC ordered Humana to cease and desist its misleading campaign to scare seniors.

Teresa DeCaro of Medicare’s Drug and Health Plan Contract Administration Group wrote, “CMS is concerned that, among other things, this information is misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, represents information to beneficiaries as official communications about the Medicare Advantage program.”

Since the CMS letter went out to Humana, Republicans have been howling about the First Amendment rights of Humana to communicate with its members and saying, the government is trying to “muzzle” free speech by imposing a “gag” order on Humana.

Now, the Republicans are threatening to delay important Health and Human Services nominees, at a time when our country is facing a swine flu pandemic, unless Humana is permitted to resume misleading seniors with tax dollars.

Humana has benefited from soaring profits and recently had to pay $14.5 million to settle a federal lawsuit for fraud and racketeering, which accused the HMO of overcharging government health programs. The lawsuit alleged that Humana fraudulently claimed $3.5 million from Medicare from 1990 to 1999.

According to Steve Benen of Washington Monthly’s Political Animal, the Democratic Senators are holding firm on the action taken by CMS to stop Humana’s proganda campaign:

“This is pretty simple,” a senior Democratic Senate aide said. “All the GOP spinning in the world can’t hide the fact that Republicans continue to protect big insurance companies who mislead seniors. This latest attempt is bizarre and untrue pushback — CMS has always said providers can communicate with their beneficiaries as long as it’s done in an accurate and truthful way. The letter from Humana clearly wasn’t — it was both false and misleading. CMS did the right thing protecting seniors from these scare tactics.”

The Republicans are certainly not being subtle about their championing of the “rights” of big insurance companies to scare seniors with misleading mailers.

Benen perfectly encapsulated the Republican’s antics: “GOP lawmakers generally avoid acting like they’ve been bought and paid for, which makes this week’s tantrum in support of Humana propaganda so foolish.”

Washington Monthly has more on the story.


Comments

3 Responses to “GOP Ups Ante in Support of Humana’s Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda”

  1. Joseph M . Mathews III, LCSW on September 25th, 2009 12:41 pm

    Two words: Public Option (PO).
    Activate the PO and all the For Profits will have to make some changes.
    Thank you,
    JM3

  2. GOP Ups Ante in Support of Humana’s Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda « Top Health Insurance Companies on September 25th, 2009 2:59 pm

    […] the rest here: GOP Ups Ante in Support of Humana’s Taxpayer-Funded Propaganda Share and […]

  3. Pete on September 28th, 2009 12:52 pm

    Five words: No to the public option. Fix the economy and jobs you morons. 2010 cannot get here soon enough to start to correct the horrible mistake made in the last election.

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