"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public." -- Theodore Roosevelt

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Thursday, December 23, 2010

HHS Secretary Sebelius Seizes Power to Decree Cost of Health Care Insurance

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has issued a 136 page "rule" granting herself the right to set prices for the cost of health insurance. Merry Christmas!

From The Weekly Standard piece by Jeffrey H. Anderson (h/t to Jacobson at Legal Insurrection who has much more):

"Not satisfied with the colossal amounts of power that she would acquire under Obamacare if it isn't repealed, Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Kathleen Sebelius has issued a 136-page 'rule' that will now give her (and her subordinates) largely unchecked power to pass judgment on the prices of health insurance throughout the United States. Notwithstanding the fact that 43 states already regulate and approve health insurance premiums, Sebelius claims that we need an additional, more centralized, protection against insurers' unseemly 'profit motive.' But a far greater threat to the future of American republicanism is posed by the impulse that animates Sebelius and the bulk of the Obama administration: the power motive."

From The Wall Street Journal (I highly recommend reading the whole piece at the link):

"And seasons greetings from the folks at Health and Human Services too. Yesterday the department dropped one of ObamaCare's more destructive regulations, which will further increase political control of health care and impose price controls on private insurance premiums.

"Under the 136-page rule, the federal government will now decide what counts as an 'unreasonable' rate increase, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius wrote to Governors yesterday urging them 'to prevent unjustified and excessive health insurance premium growth.' Apparently, 'unreasonable' means rate increases that exceed 10% next year, except when it doesn't. If an insurer crosses this arbitrary threshold, 'The review process would then determine if the increase is, in fact, unreasonable.' So that's cleared up.

"This discretion is typical of the vast ad hoc powers that ObamaCare handed to regulators, though Ms. Sebelius's true goal is to punish the insurance industry for rising health costs that the new entitlement is already turbocharging. Like so much else in U.S. health care, no one seems to find it odd that the government is decreeing how much businesses are allowed to charge for a product that consumers want to buy, regardless of the economic reality.

"ObamaCare mandates greater insurance benefits and other regulations that distort market pricing, while also accelerating the explosive costs of medical services. Premiums will naturally climb to cover those costs. It won't take much to hit 10% when the Standard & Poor's Healthcare Economic Commercial Index, which tracks private spending, increased 8.5% over the last year—and that's prior to the worst of ObamaCare kicking in.

"Contrary to the HHS caricature of a pitiless free market, 43 states already regulate and approve premiums in the individual or small-business markets, or both, based on actuarial and solvency data. HHS will allow state insurance commissioners to continue under the status quo, unless it decides that their reviews aren't 'effective,' whatever that means.

"This is all an effort to end-run Congress, which by some miracle declined to give HHS the formal legal authority to explicitly block premium increases, despite a direct appeal from President Obama. Instead, Ms. Sebelius is creating by regulatory fiat larger de facto powers to achieve the same end.

"Yesterday, HHS reiterated Ms. Sebelius's threat to exclude certain insurers from ObamaCare's insurance exchanges if they show 'a pattern' of unjustified rate increases. In practice, that would be a corporate death warrant. In September, after some carriers spoke honestly about rising costs, she warned that 'there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.'


"Politicized rate-setting is the new reality of the U.S. health insurance market, not that consumers will in any way benefit."

This sort of destructively, heavy-handed federal regulation is just one more reason why ObamaCare (which fits the economic definition of Fascism) must be repealed. No compromises.

In the short term, Jacobson has this point:

"The beauty from Obama's point of view of the regulatory state is that Congress does not vote on regulations.

"But there is a kink in the regulatory armor, and that is the budget. HHS must be funded, as must the army of people who will carry out the regulations.

"The incoming Republican House must be prepared to defund Kathleen Sebelius sufficiently that she cannot expand her authority or implement Obamacare. No capitulation this time, please."

Exactly. No compromise from the Republicans on this issue. None.


  1. "Exactly. No compromise from the Republicans on this issue. None."

    I agree with you 100% on this!

  2. No compromises? You betcha. It's a deal breaker. No where else to go? Well, then it's together, up against the wall, either us or them. I've already started practicing the dramatic breaking of the empty beer bottles. We've taken to calling them "dead patients" instead of the traditional "dead soldiers." A lot more Pee Cee, I know, but, hey!

  3. I have no idea what Joel is saying here... Does anyone know?