Fear of regulatory retaliation: ObamaCare and beyond

by Walter Olson on November 4, 2013

“According to CNN investigative reporter Drew Griffin, the White House is pressuring trade associations and insurance providers to keep quiet about the changes the Affordable Care Act is creating for some people’s health coverage plans. One industry official told CNN on the record that the White House is applying ‘massive pressure’ to combat the impression that the ACA is resulting in the cancellation of some plans.” [Mediaite]

This is not the first time, or the tenth, I’ve heard about regulated entities feeling pressure to shut up about things that might embarrass the regulators they answer to. These stories did not begin with the Obama administration and I don’t think they’ll end with it. Quite aside from whatever we think of ObamaCare itself, shouldn’t they disturb us? And can anything be done about it? Following media attention to the plight of “whistleblowers” in the workplace, lawmakers have created fairly elaborate procedures intended to identify and remedy cases of retaliation against federal employees who speak up about problems they notice, procedures that in some instances have also been extended to some private-sector employees. Should there be procedures aimed at unearthing and rectifying retaliation against regulated entities, too, when they blow the whistle? Or would that be too easily manipulated by regulated entities in search of profit, revenge, or point-making?

{ 1 comment }

1 Walter Olson 11.04.13 at 7:10 am

Reader Dale Ogden writes to call attention to this quote from former California insurance commissioner Chuck Quackenbush, who later resigned under ethical fire:

Later there was this exchange between Davis and Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush of California.

Quackenbush: I’ve got to say that’s the most amazing testimony I’ve ever heard from an insurance company. The last company that had that kind of attitude toward me, I seized a billion-dollar operation and sold it off back into the private sector because of just that type of attitude.

More background about Quackenbush’s controversial seizure of Golden Eagle Insurance here.

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