Shocking things have become such a daily occurrence under the Obama regime that I gave up blogging a few months ago. There was no way to cover all the outrages — or even to pick what to cover from the overwhelming barrage.
This morning, however, something came along that hits so close to home, I am inspired to write. The horror of ObamaCare has now gotten all too personal. Kathleen Sebelius, Obama’s secretary of Health and Human Services, has chosen, as her first victim in the coming war on insurance companies, my own insurer, the company that has covered — and graciously served — my family for the past 19 years.
The Obama administration on Monday called on a Mennonite-owned health insurance company to cancel its proposed 11.6 percent rate hike, marking the first time the government has tried to pressure a private company under the new health care law.
For those of you who may not know, Mennonites are a Christian denomination that emphasizes non-violence, much as the Quakers do, and mutual assistance, much as Jewish groups have historically been known for. Mennonites originated in Switzerland in the 16th century, were persecuted by both Catholics and Lutherans, and now include members in many countries all over the world. Mennonite congregations and lifestyles range over a broad spectrum, with the Amish being the most traditional.
While Pennsylvania-based Everence Insurance said it needs to raise rates on about 5,000 customers to cover costs, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius called the increase “unreasonable,” holding it up as evidence that the government has an important role to play in reining in the cost of coverage.
I won’t go into private family stories here, but suffice it to say that during some very difficult times, Everence (formerly Mennonite Mutual Aid) was there for us in a way I simply cannot imagine any other insurance company doing. Not only have Everence employees been like angels to my family, they get high marks from all our healthcare providers, too. I can’t tell you how often I’ve received spontaneous, out-of-the-blue remarks from healthcare professionals about how extraordinarily nice our insurer is to deal with.
In part, this is because Everence/MMA is a very small company, i.e., no huge, intimidating, cumbersome bureaucracy. But perhaps more importantly, it’s because they are Christians, who take their mission seriously. As an Everence case manager once told me, “We don’t see ourselves as an insurance company. Look at our name: Mennonite Mutual Aid. Christians helping Christians. That’s what we try to be. We are a Christian mutual aid society, not an insurance company.”
Although I am a Catholic now, the rest of my family still attends a Mennonite church, and we have stayed with our Mennonite insurer. You could look all over America, and I am convinced you would not find a more ethical and caring insurer than this small Mennonite association, which raises rates with great reluctance, and only by what is necessary for its financial survival. There is thus a particularly galling irony in the fact that of all the insurers in America, Kathleen Sebelius and her minions would pick this one to attack first.
But then again, perhaps it makes perfect sense in a perverse way. We know that bullies are cowards at heart, so they usually go after the little guys. And they often target Christians, whom they know hold themselves to a higher standard of behavior than that of the bullies. Some readers might find additional irony in the fact that this leftist Administration is targeting a denomination whose most famous trademark is its strict pacifism. You’d think the anti-war liberals would give them a break, wouldn’t you? But some of us have been saying for a long time that, contrary to popular stereotypes, the Left is not and never has been nonviolent.
I am happy to note that the Mennonites, pacifists though they be, are resisting Sebelius’ efforts to intimidate them.
With the first plan to be ruled unreasonable by the administration, Everence indicated it would not back away from the rate hike, although the Mennonite-affiliated company will be required to publicly justify it on the website healthcare.gov.
The fact that Obama, Sebelius & Co. are going on big-time offense against such a small fish — and a virtuous, Christian one, at that — is just one more bit of evidence that these people really are doing the devil’s work. But it may be taking them by surprise to come up against something of which they seem to have no concept: the unearthly strength and courage that Christ the King gives His humble followers, who bow to no one but Him.