Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Obamacare and Transparency

This morning the Administration released proposed new regulations regarding information disclosure to consumers, so that individuals considering insurance policies will have information to make apples-to-apples comparisons.  Transparency of information is generally a good thing, and providing consumers with clear information on which to make choices may have a positive effect (provided compliance won’t significantly raise costs for businesses).

But questions about Obamacare’s “consumer-friendly” nature still persist.  If Democrats want to allow consumers to make choices, then why reduce choice by allowing Exchanges to carry only “Washington-approved” insurance policies?  Why not permit individuals to buy any policy they wished across state lines, rather than just allowing individuals to purchase those that meet federal mandates (and then only if the state permits it)?  And from a broader perspective, how consumer friendly can 2,700 pages of law, more than 9,000 pages (and counting!) of regulations and notices, and 159 new boards, commissions, and programs be?

And don’t forget what the ultimate impact of all this “consumer choice” propounded by federal mandates will be.  HHS’ proposed template for insurance coverage under Obamacare runs to six pages – but I can summarize it in five simple words: “Your. Premiums. Will. Go. Up.”  There, that wasn’t too hard, was it?

On a related note, Politico reports about a federal judge’s ruling allowing a lawsuit against the Administration to go ahead.  The complaint alleges that the White House’s backroom deals with its health reform “Gang of Six” – including industry groups like Pharma and liberal groups like AARP and SEIU – violated federal open meetings laws.  This of course raises an obvious question for Secretary Sebelius and others:  If it cares so much about openness and disclosure for consumers, then why doesn’t the “most transparent” Administration reveal all its backroom dealings with industry groups to get Obamacare passed in the first place?