Monday, September 28, 2009

McConnell: Administration Tactics "Unbelievable Outrage"

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the administration's "gag order" of Humana, which has been extended to other insurers, an "absolutely clear violation of the first amendment" and an "unbelievable outrage."

In a conference call with reporters, McConnell noted that the gag order, which prohibits Humana and its competitors from telling its customers how health care legislation would affect them, is part of the "administration's tactics with regard to trying to jam through" a health care bill that would reorganize one-sixth of the economy. "The tactics they're willing to resort to are without limit."

In addition, McConnell noted that the Democrats voted down a proposal to put the health care bill and Congressional Budget Office analysis of its price online for 72 hours before it could be voted upon. The combination of the gag order, the refusal to put the bill online and demonization of citizens at town hall meetings in August amount to a "pattern of intimidation." The takeaway, according to McConnell, is that the Democrats will "do anything to quiet the voices of dissent and keep Americans in the dark" in an effort to pass their bill.

Last week, the Congressional Budget Office told the Senate Finance Committee that Sen. Max Baucus's bill would likely result in substantial cuts to Medicare Advantage -- exactly the point that Humana had made to its subscribers in the letter that prompted the "gag order."

"What Humana did was speak the truth," McConnell said. The non-partisan CBO analysis "underscored that."

McConnell said that Democrats might be "prepared to throw [the government option] overboard and make this look like a centrist bill." Nonetheless, the bill will still increase taxes on "virtually everyone" by taxing medical devices and procedures. And it would cut Medicare benefits by millions of dollars.

Even if Democrats drop the "government option," and even if Democrats exclude illegal aliens from the bill's coverage, the "core bill is fundamentally flawed."

Rather than passing a thousand page bill that overhauls one-sixth of the economy, McConnell suggested an "incremental" series of bills to reduce health care costs and increase access to care. Specifically, McConnell identified tort reform, incentives for wellness, tax incentives for individual employees to purchase coverage like incentives now given to employers, and removing the barriers to interstate competition for insurance.

With respect to the prospect of the Democrats invoking the "Byrd Rule" to bypass a filibuster, McConnell suggested that using a "legislative loophole to rewrite one-sixth of the economy with 20 hours of debate" is "not a great way to win acceptability among a skeptical public."

1 comment:

Sloane Graff said...

Thuggery extraordinaire. Thank goodness for Senator McConnell and his efforts to stop these muggers.