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Wednesday, September 23, 2009
MRC Ignores Full Story on Criticism of Medicare Letter
Topic: Media Research Center

A Sept. 23 MRC item (and NewsBusters post) by Brent Baker accuses the Obama administration of "using the full power of a federal regulatory agency to suppress free speech -- specifically, to silence Humana's predictions about the impact of proposed ObamaCare cuts to the Medicare Advantage program." But Baker hides the full nature of the criticism of Humana.

At issue is a mailer Humana sent to its clients in the Medicare Advantage program, which claimed that the Obama adminisration wants to cut "important benefits and services" of Medicare -- essentially electioneering on an issue it has a major interest in. This resulted in a letter from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services asking Humana to stop such mailings, claiming that "the information in the letter is misleading and confusing to beneficiaries, who may believe that it represents official communication about the Medicare Advantage program." CMS is also investigating whether Humana inappropriately used the lists of Medicare enrollees for unauthorized purposes.

By not mentioning the possibility that Humana may have misused mailing lists for political purposes -- and not bothering to fact-check the mailing to see if it actually is as "misleading" as the government claims -- Baker falsely portrays the issue as one of free speech.

Baker further misleadingly repeats an ABC report calling the CMS letter a "gag order." Humana has not been "gagged" on this issue; rather, it is been asked to stop making misleading claims and misusing mailing list for unauthorized purposes.

Posted by Terry K. at 4:19 PM EDT

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