|Obama HHS: Private Insurers Must Now Credit ObamaCare When Mailing Customer Rebates|
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, May 17 2012
The Obama Administration may abhor free speech, but it certainly delights in government-imposed speech.
Remember those silly “stimulus” construction site roadsigns from 2009 and 2010?
At $10,000 apiece according to ABC News, the self-congratulatory signs belauded “The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act” – otherwise known as the $800 billion Obama “stimulus” – and assured motorists it was “Putting America Back to Work.”
It all seems almost quaint in retrospect. Obama and his foot-devouring sidekick Joe Biden barnstormed the nation, proclaiming a 2010 “Recovery Summer.” On June 17, 2010, the official White House website triumphantly promised:
“The Administration today kicks off ‘Recovery Summer,’ a six-week-long focus on the surge in Recovery Act infrastructure projects that will be underway across the country in the coming months – and the jobs they’ll create well into the fall and through the end of the year. The Recovery Act has already funded tens of thousands of projects and put about 2.5 million Americans to work, but summer 2010 is actually poised to be the most active Recovery Act season yet.” [Emphasis added.]
Two years later, unemployment has remained above 8% for the most consecutive months since recordkeeping began, and Obama’s policies have caused the most anemic cyclical recovery since the Great Depression.
Obama recovery, we hardly knew ye.
Americans gradually chose to believe their own eyes over Obama’s self-promotion messaging, but now the Administration is attempting to repeat that shenanigan.
Under a federal mandate issued last Friday, health insurers mailing rebate checks must now specifically credit ObamaCare in letters to customers. Under ObamaCare’s original provisions, insurers were forced to meet a government-set administrative expenditure formula, and rebate the differential to customers. On Friday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decided that in mailing such rebates, insurers must credit ObamaCare in the first paragraph with the following statement: “This letter is to inform you that you will receive a rebate of a portion of your health insurance premiums. This rebate is required by the Affordable Care Act – the health reform law.”
The Orwellian nature of the new HHS mandate was captured by this Wall Street Journal report:
“Obama administration officials, who have expressed frustration that Americans don’t know more about consumer-friendly parts of the law, hope that tapping insurers and doctors to spread the word will help lift public opinion of the law. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, in a speech to doctors last month, urged them to use their authority ‘to educate people’ about the benefits of the law.”
As James Taranto wryly observed, “There’s no corresponding requirement that insurers inform customers when premiums go up as a result of complying with ObamaCare’s onerous mandates. Of course, such a tendentious accounting is to be expected from a political campaign, but to use the federal regulatory apparatus to commandeer private companies for campaign ads is outrageous.”
Curiously, the new HHS mandate occurs just one month after an appellate court quashed a similar mandate from Obama’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In mid-April, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia enjoined an NLRB rule forcing employers to advise employees of their union organizing rights. That injunction followed a U.S. District Court’s decision that the NLRB had exceeded its authority in issuing the mandate.
So in succession, the Obama Administration has responded to the failure of its massive spending “stimulus,” its inability to enact pro-union legislation despite a Congress dominated at the time by its own party and now popular opposition to ObamaCare by mandating compulsory speech and spending even more taxpayer dollars on messaging to reinforce its agenda.
Meanwhile, private citizens who spend their own dollars exercising their First Amendment freedoms of speech and association receive nothing but hostility from Obama and his administration. Obama routinely demands greater governmental rationing of private political speech under penalty of imprisonment, and just recently an Idaho donor to Mitt Romney’s campaign was publicly defamed on Obama’s website and had investigators probing his private divorce records.
It all makes for a strange paradox: Free speech by private citizens is demonized, but compulsory speech via government mandate meets delight.
Between courts and the American electorate, however, Obama’s mandatory campaign advertising continues to receive an equally – and rightfully – hostile reception.
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