Administration Muscling Insurance Companies: Don't Complain About Obamacare

Image: Administration Muscling Insurance Companies: Don't Complain About Obamacare

Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 11:09 AM

By Lisa Barron

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Insurance companies are under increasing White House pressure to back off from criticizing Obamacare even as complaints mount.

Company executives are being told to keep their views of the Affordable Care Act under their hats especially now that individuals are being told they will lose their current plans with the law's implementation, CNN reports.

"Basically, if you speak out, if you are quoted, you're going to get a call from the White House, pressure to be quiet," investigative reporter Drew Griffin said on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360," adding, "Several sources tell me and my colleague Chris Frates that insurance executives are being told to keep quiet."

Specifically, they are being told not to talk about clarifications that were made after the law was passed that are said to force the insurance industry to drop plans that do not meet its requirements, Griffin claimed.

"There is a lot of coverage now required in these plans that was not part of many people's healthcare plans. Those are the people who are being dropped," he said. "And despite all the rhetoric — I should say, from the president — you simply cannot keep your current healthcare plan if it does not meet these requirements."

The law requires insurers to offer a higher level of minimum coverage that includes maternity care and mental health treatment, among other benefits.

Robert Laszewski, President of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, a consulting firm for big insurers, told CNN that he is getting calls from executives wanting him to speak out on their behalf because they feel defenseless against the White House PR team.

"Executives are willing to listen to the White House because right now, it is the federal government that's the biggest customer for these insurance companies," Griffin explained.

"Government-backed plans accounted for about 48 percent of healthcare policies last year, a number that's expected to grow this year and in years to come. So basically, the insurance companies are in a position to just be quiet for fear of offending basically their biggest source of income."

Not so, says White House spokesman Jay Carney. He sent Griffin a note saying, "That accusation is preposterous and inaccurate. Plus it ignores the fact every day insurance companies are out talking about the law, in large part because they are trying to reach millions of new customers who will now have new affordable insurance options available from providers through the new market place."

Carney also stated that he thinks Laszewski has been against Obamacare from the start and is a longtime opponent of any kind of reform in healthcare.

Meanwhile, President Obama said on Wednesday that "bad apple" insurance companies, not his signature healthcare law, are to blame for hundreds of people losing their coverage.
Speaking in Boston, the president stressed that the law allows Americans to keep bare-bone plans created before the law was signed in 2010, as long as insurers did not change or cancel them.

"Remember, before the Affordable Care Act, these bad-apple insurers had free rein every single year to limit the care that you received, or used minor pre-existing conditions to jack up your premiums, or bill you into bankruptcy," he said.



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