GOP protests rules barring health plans from lobbying seniors

Recently, Humana found itself in the middle of a major controversy after sending out a letter to Medicare Advantage members that attacked current health reform plans. Not only did CMS launch an investigation into Humana's conduct, HHS Kathleen Sebelius has demanded that all Medicare Advantage members refrain from lobbying their senior base.

Now, the Senate's leading Republicans are striking back against what they say is an unfair step. They're saying that they won't approve the White House's picks for top healthcare posts until Sebelius drops the ban on such communications. Republicans are calling the Medicare Advantage restrictions a "gag order" that is unfair to health plans.

No word yet from the White House as to whether it will ask Sebelius to back down. It is likely that HHS will end up compromising in some way, however, as the Humana letter seems to fall into a grey area legally. It's easy to understand why the Administration doesn't want health plans to stir the health reform pot, however, given that seniors are a powerful voting bloc who are particularly protective of their benefits.

To get up to date on the GOP's concerns:
- read this Kaiser Daily News piece

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