The level of straight talk in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by HHS chief Kathleen Sebelius is breathtaking. Bottom line: Do the critics harping against regulation in the health care market--and attacking Sebelius personally--want to go back to letting insurance companies do what they please?
Here's the lead:
In the last two weeks, my department has been accused of "thuggery"
(this editorial page) and "Soviet tyranny" (Newt Gingrich). What
prompted these accusations? The fact that we told health-insurance
companies that, as required by law, we will review large premium
increases and identify those that are unreasonable.
There's a long history of special interests using similar attacks to
oppose change. In the mid-1960s, for example, some claimed Medicare
would put our country on the path to socialism.
But what is really objectionable about these comments is not who
they're attacking, but what they're defending. These critics seem to
believe that any oversight of the insurance industry is too much, and
that consumers would be better off in a system where they have few
rights or protections.
Over the past decade, Americans have seen what happens when
insurance companies have free rein. The cost of health insurance has
more than doubled, while millions of hard-working Americans lost their
coverage or drained their savings to keep up with premiums.
Employers—big and small—have struggled mightily to absorb these cost
increases and have been losing the fight.
It's a breath of fresh air from this administration--a top official calling out opponents who have offered no alternative and defending the government's right to protect citizens from out-of-control corporate greed. On a personal note--after nearly 20 years of working with Op-Ed authors at a large newspaper, this is the cleanest, most straighforward writing I've ever seen from a high-level bureaucrat.
The health care reform law is weak and flawed, but what regulators can do is make the most of what tools they have. Let's hope Sebelius keeps it up.