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Emails Show Cozy Government-Insurer Alliance, Expectation of Bailout

8:06 AM, Jul 29, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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Publicly, President Obama loves to demonize insurance companies.  But behind the scenes, Big Government and Big Insurance maintain a cozy alliance that the Obama administration actively nourishes, often at taxpayer expense.  Indeed, as emails recently obtained by the House Oversight Committee show, Big Government and Big Insurance have worked together to promote Obamacare.  They’ve also worked together to make sure taxpayers will help bail out insurance companies who lose money selling insurance under Obamacare — that is, unless Republicans stop this from happening.  Moreover, Obama senior advisor Valerie Jarrett is among the prominent White House officials who’ve been in the middle of this collaboration between insurers and the administration — between those driven by the profit motive and those driven by the power motive.

Obama reading

As is detailed in the Oversight Committee’s report, shortly after the disastrous Obamacare rollout began, White House communications director Tara McGuiness and Chris Jennings, Obama’s deputy assistant for health policy, “traded talking points with numerous insurance company CEOs.”  According to the report, “Ms. McGuiness and Mr. Jennings collaborated closely with Florida Blue Cross and Blue Shield CEO Patrick Geraghty.  After a CBS Evening News appearance on October 11, 2013, Ms. McGuiness emailed Mr. Geraghty, ‘You were great!  I watched.  Thanks for the help.’”

Twelve days later, Geraghty and the respective CEOs of Aetna, Humana, the Health Care Services Corporation, Centene Corp., Wellpoint, Kaiser Permanente, Tufts Health, Health Net, CareFirst, the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, and America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) all met with Jarrett and Obama chief of staff Denis McDonough at the White House. 

A few days after that, the report reveals, Jennings emailed Geraghty in advance of an appearance on Meet the Press, writing, “Pat: Tara McGuiness will probably reach out to you directly today to give you latest info and suggestions for press prep.  Please advise if you need anything from me.  I may call you later to make sure all is ok.  Thanks so much for all.”  Both McGuiness and Jennings then followed up with specific advice.  After Geraghty’s appearance aired, Jennings emailed him and said, “Pat: You were extraordinary.…We were all impressed.  Thank you so much!  Would like to talk soon….”

Meanwhile, the Obama administration was coming under increasing political pressure — as millions of Americans found out that (contrary to Democratic messaging across the years), if they liked their health plan, that didn’t necessarily mean they could keep their health plan.  After Obama lawlessly empowered himself to un-ban the plans that Obamacare had banned by law, insurers weren’t happy, so the administration responded by paying them off. 

It did so by changing the rules regarding two programs buried in the bowels of Obamacare — its risk-corridor and reinsurance programs.  As Jay Cost and I wrote this spring, the administration changed the rules “to funnel more money to insurers.  Put simply, the administration lowered the threshold at which insurers become eligible for reinsurance money, and it made more generous the formula by which insurers get paid under the risk corridors.”  In the process, Obama effectively turned the risk-corridor program into his own personal slush fund.

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