KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Sebelius Defends Policy On Insurers’ Politically Oriented Letters

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius defends a government memo telling insurers to stop sending letters to seniors about the effects of health reform legislation on Medicare Advantage programs.

Modern Healthcare reports: "In a letter sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sebelius reiterated her stance that the politically minded letters sent by insurance giant Humana, Louisville, Ky., could have violated federal laws that ban the use of federal dollars that funnel toward lobbying efforts." Humana sent the letters in September informing customers that their benefits could be affected by the reform proposals being considered by Congress. Democratic legislation has called for a cut in federal subsidies to the Medicare Advantage plans. In her letter, Sebelius said the government "would continue its investigation 'to ensure that any compliance and enforcement actions are appropriately and consistently applied'" (DoBias, 10/6).

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