Painting a threatening picture for American freedom in the future if a company (or an individual for that matter) “disagrees with a powerful Senator,” Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell sharply rebuked fellow Senator Max Baucus for his influence in a government decision to prohibit health insurers from providing their Medicare customers with information about how the proposed reform legislation will impact or cut their Medicare benefits.
Without referring to the Montana Democrat directly by name, but instead calling Baucus “the Chairman’s Mark” (a direct reference to Baucus’ controversial Finance Committee bill), Republican McConnell accused Baucus of violations of the First Amendment “to squelch free speech.”
Baucus’ legislation will cut Medicare Advantage benefits if it becomes law.
Humana, a provider based in McConnell’s home state of Kentucky, sent out letters to its Medicare customers warning of the cuts to their benefits if the Baucus bill passes Congress and is signed into law.
Baucus urged what he called “scare tactics” to stop and, on Monday, CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services), which oversees Medicare, ordered an investigation of Humana and also warned other insurers about mailings to their customers about proposed healthcare legislation.
Although CMS says it was already investigating Humana before Baucus urged them to get involved, McConnell is not buying it.
“Is this what we’ve come to in America?” McConnell pressed his fellow Senators on the floor, “that any health provider that disagrees with a powerful Senator (referring to Baucus) will be treated?…to squelch free speech.”
Medicare Advantage is coverage provided for people who qualify for Medicare which comes through private providers. Under Baucus’ program, this popular program will be sharply cut back, denying those who already have it or want it. So much for the Democrats’ claim that “if you like what you have, you’ll be able to keep it.”