HHS Secretary Seems to be Bullying Insurers, Congressmen Say

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' recent remarks on possibly unjustified insurance rate increases seem to be "an effort to intimidate" insurers, according to a release from Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

In a Sept. 9 letter, Ms. Sebelius wrote insurers "there will be zero tolerance" for "unjustified rate increases" and challenged the insurers' premise that their increases were due to healthcare reform mandates.

In a Sep. 30 letter to the HSS secretary, Reps. Joe Barton (Texas), John Shimkus (Ill.) and Michael Burgess (Texas) wrote: "We fear that your letter is an effort to intimidate those who reveal the negative consequences of the law and an attempt to block actuarially sound premium increases, which would put all consumers at risk."

The three Republicans said they want the HHS secretary to provide "all written material she has proving that the premium increases are unjustified or not actuarially sound, and to provide all documents or evidence in your possession showing that state insurance commissioners are unable or unwilling to protect consumers."

The congressmen noted that when Democratic representatives looked into other insurance price increases attributed to reform mandates, they also demanded documents from insurers and after they read the documents, "the investigation was quietly shut down."

Read the GOP congressmen's release on healthcare reform.

Read their letter to Ms. Sebelius.

Read more on Kathleen Sebelius and insurance rate hikes:

-Top Democrats Threaten Insurers Who Blame Rate Increases on Reform Law

-HHS Warns Insurers Against Pinning High Rate Increases on Reforms

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