Our Opinion: Federal agency's lobbying inappropriate

Is it appropriate for a tax-funded federal agency essentially to lobby the public about congressional action on federal health care?

You be the judge.

Forming the backdrop are efforts by the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal President Obama’s health care overhaul.

An e-mail received Tuesday from the federal Department of Health and Human Services, Region 7, was described as a “fact sheet following Secretary (Kathleen) Sebelius’ call with reporters.”

The title of the fact sheet was: “The Price of Repealing the Affordable Care Act: Missouri.”

We were disconcerted by a number of statements the agency advanced as facts.

For example:

• “At a time when Missouri residents will soon be finally free from worrying that affordable coverage will not be available to them and their families when they need it the most, repealing the Affordable Care Act would be devastating.”

• “In addition, repealing the law would add at least a trillion dollars to the deficit, which Americans cannot afford, nor do we want to pass that debt to our children and grandchildren.”

• “Missouri residents, providers, small businesses and other employers would be denied critical new benefits of the law, from protections against insurance industry abuses to new coverage options and millions of dollars in support so states like Missouri can deliver quality, affordable health care options to all of its residents.”

The choice of descriptive adjectives — affordable coverage; critical new benefits — is designed to be persuasive, not objective.

The selection of words and phrases — devastating; free from worrying; insurance industry abuses — appeals to emotion, not intellect.

And the unspecified trillion dollars added to the deficit to be passed to our children and grandchildren is a blatant scare tactic.

People are entitled to their opinions on the promises, provisions and potential costs of the federal health care law.

We find it troubling, however, for a federal executive agency to use our tax dollars to influence us about an issue before the legislative branch.

At a time when budget woes are forcing cuts in government services, we find it inappropriate for government to be lobbying us on our dime.

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