What Hath Sebelius Wrought at the Health Insurers?

I literally have no idea what this means ("lock down mode"?) but it sure doesn't sound good:

An anonymous (but vetted) reader tells us that HCSC (the holding company for Blue Cross Blue Shield franchises in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico, and the fifth-largest health insurer by enrollment) is in "lock down mode" following a gag order imposed last Friday (September 10, 2010). If any of our readers have details, we'd appreciate a heads' up as soon as possible.

Any readers have any information on this?

Whatever the facts of this specific case, I'm struggling to come up with a description of the administration's attempt to prevent companies from telling anyone that their legislation cost money, which doesn't start with "creepy" and end in "thuggery".  Oh, I'm sure other administrations have done similar things to other industries, and "creepy thugs" is the thought that springs immediately to mind when I contemplate this.  

I can see debate over whether corporations ought to be able to donate to campaigns.  I cannot see debate over whether politicians ought to be able to silence criticism of their legislation by threatening regulatory retaliation.  In what way is the country made better off by giving the administration "soft power" to suppress dissent?  And before you answer that, let me be a little more specific:  in what way is the country made better off by giving an administration from the other party the power to suppress dissent by groups on your side?

Update:  the company writes

Regarding your post, "What Hath Sebelius Wrought At the Health Insurers?" > - This is not accurate for HCSC. There is no order from the HHS and we are still writing business. The confusion may be related to the production and replacement of marketing and member communication that will be required to comply with the Affordable Care Act deadline next week. As you know, a number of changes will go into effect for our members on September 23 and we are working to ensure we have accurate and timely information for policyholders.

I shouldn't have linked the HCSC situation to Sebelius' letter, which I've been meaning to write about for days; I took the words "gag order" to mean something they didn't, for which I apologize.

I remain outraged by the HHS letter, but the two aren't connected, and I apologize for assuming they were.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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