U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., last week asked Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to hold a hearing on health care reform in light of a letter she sent objecting to premium increases.
“It has come to my attention that several health insurer carriers are sending letters to their enrollees falsely blaming premium increases for 2011 on the patient protections in the Affordable Care Act,” Sebelius wrote in a letter to the president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, a national organization of health insurers. “I urge you to inform your members that there will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.”
She added: “We will not stand idly by as insurers blame their premium hikes and increased profits on the requirement that they provide consumers with basic protections.”
Gingrey, a harsh critic of the health care reform Congress passed earlier this year, questioned whether Sebelius “is protecting American consumers” or the president by sending such a letter.
“I think it important that we figure out what is going on here. Why are health insurers raising costs by 10 percent if ObamaCare is supposed to reduce costs?” Gingrey said in an opening statement to the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health. “… My question is this: Is Secretary Sebelius looking out for American patients or covering up the fact that ObamaCare is making their health care unaffordable?
“I believe the American people – and this Congress – deserve to know whether these huge rate increases are the work of bad insurance companies or the result of ObamaCare,” Gingrey added. “This Committee did not shy away from vilifying Insurance companies in the past – I see no reason why it should shy away from holding a hearing on this issue now.”