End of Medicare ‘Gag Order’ Doesn’t Quite Satisfy McConnell
Monday, October 19, 2009 at 4:06 pm
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) wants a “further review” in the wake of new White House guidelines reversing an earlier policy that prohibited health insurers from urging Medicare beneficiaries to oppose the Democrats’ health reforms, which include clipping more than $100 billion from Medicare Advantage plans.
The prohibition sparked an outcry last month, after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched an investigation into the insurance giant Humana and claimed that such communications violated the insurers’ contracts with the agency. But on Friday, the Obama administration effectively conceded that it had erred in establishing an all-out ban on such communications, and established new guidelines allowing companies to inform seniors of upcoming legislation if (1) they don’t use federal money to do so, and (2) the patients lend their permission first. “Beneficiaries can provide consent in writing, by telephone or on a Web site,” The New York Times reported on Friday.
The news has been embraced by GOP leaders, who had threatened to stall 10 pending health administration nominees until the policy changed. But McConnell isn’t completely satisfied. From his statement issued Monday:
The administration’s reversal is welcome.
However, many questions remain about the initial order itself and about the administration’s willingness to constrain the free flow of information to seniors about their health care. The administration has admitted its error, though its proposed solution needs further review.
No word yet if the threat to block nominees remains in place.
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