CNN: White House Pressuring Insurance Companies To Not Criticize ObamaCare
By Noel Sheppard | October 30, 2013 | 00:31
It's becoming clearer and clearer that some media members are very interested in stories about the disaster that is the so-called "Affordable Care Act."
On CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Tuesday, investigative reporter Drew Griffin exposed allegations that the White House is pressuring insurance companies to not publicly criticize ObamaCare (video follows with transcript and commentary):
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST: Now more breaking news, evidence that the Obama administration is leaning on insurance companies to keep a lid on problems with the healthcare law rollout. Now Drew Griffin on CNN’s investigations did the reporting. So Drew, What’s going on here, what have you learned?
DREW GRIFFIN: Anderson, what’s going on is behind the scenes attempt by the White House to at least keep insurers from publicly criticizing what is happening on this Affordable Care Act rollout. Basically, if you speak out, if you are quoted, you’re going to get a call from the White House, pressure to be quiet. Several sources tell me and my colleague Chris Frates that insurance executives are being told to keep quiet.
Bob Laszewski who heads the Health Policy Strategy Associates, a consulting firm for big insurers, and an outspoken critic of ObamaCare, says he is getting calls from these executives who want him to speak out, Anderson, for them about the problems because they feel defenseless against the White House PR team. Laszewski told me today, “The White House is exerting massive pressure on the industry, including the trade associations, to keep quiet.” Sources telling us they fear White House retribution.
COOPER: So, I mean, what specifically are, do they say they’re being told to keep quiet about?
GRIFFIN: About the fact that clarifications were made to the Affordable Care Act after the law was passed, and those clarifications are forcing the insurance industry to drop insurance plans that do not meet ObamaCare requirements. There is a lot of coverage now required in these plans that was not part of many people’s private healthcare plans. Those are the people, Anderson, who are being dropped. 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. Laszewski says the insurance industry is embarrassed about cancelling the plans, but in an interview last week, he told me the administration was warned about this very scenario and ignored the advice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT LASZEWSKI, PRESIDENT, HEALTH POLICY AND STRATEGY ASSOCIATES: When the regulations were being put together, people in the insurance industry said you're being overly regulatory, you’re requiring too many things, you’re making this too complicated, you're not letting people keep their plans who have them now, and the Obama administration decided to do it the way the Obama administration was going to do it. One of the things I think that’s clear here is the Obama administration has no trust in anything the health insurance industry tells them about how to run a health plan. And I think the administrative mess you’re seeing right now is indicative of what happens when somebody tries to run somebody else's business who thinks they’re smarter than you are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So Drew, why would the insurance industry not be willing to challenge the White House publicly?
GRIFFIN: Well, 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. Government backed plans accounted for about 48 percent of healthcare policies last year, Anderson, a number that’s expected to grow this year and 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.
COOPER: So have you heard from the White House about this? I mean, what’s their side of the story?
GRIFFIN: Yeah, pushing back. Jay Carney just sent this note on allegations of White House pressure being placed on insurance executives. He writes, “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 places.” That from White House spokesman Jay Carney. Just a few moments ago he also reiterated that he thinks Bob Laszewski has been against ObamaCare from the start and is a longtime opponent, I should say, of any kind of reform in healthcare.
COOPER: I mean, you acknowledge he is a, he has been critical of ObamaCare for a long time. So viewers should keep that in mind as well as the White House saying they totally don't buy this?
GRIFFIN: Absolutely right, but again, our sources, sources of mine, Chris Frates’ sources are telling. This is not coming just from Bob Laszewski.
COOPER: Okay, so there’s multiple sourcing on this. Alright, cool. Drew, appreciate it. Thanks for the clarification.
Just prior to this report, Cooper began the program with allegations that the White House was informed in September by the lead ObamaCare contractor that the website had serious problems and was not ready to go live.
Clearly, CNN at this point seems very comfortable exposing problems with this law.
As always, it would have been nice if CNN had been so vigilant before the law was passed by Congress with not one Republican voting in favor of it.
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