First it was Congress going after health insurers. Now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are none too happy with them, either.
It seems completely reasonable for companies to want to look out for their customers' interests, especially if doing so in the companies' best interest, too. Further, companies are allowed to spend money lobbying Congress, donating to campaigns, and even buying advertisements to try to get citizens to call their political leaders. Why is sending a letter to its customers so bad, if that's how Humana wants to spend its money?
Well, because these were Medicare Advantage members, a program that's regulated by CMS. The agency didn't like it that Humana was using protected Medicare mailing lists for political reasons.
Of course, that's not how Republicans see it. They believe CMS is putting a gag order on Humana, Aetna
As long as CMS doesn't take a major action like not letting Humana enroll new patients -- it has that power and used it earlier this year on WellPoint
It seems, however, that this is becoming a distraction in Washington, and that could actually be a good thing for the insurers -- and their shareholders.
Was CMS correct in reining in the ability to use its mailing list for political messages? Or should Humana and the others be allowed to send what they want to their customers? Let us know in the comments section, below. And come back daily for coverage of the health-care debate to see how it might affect you and your investments.