Perhaps the most disturbing domestic news item recently is HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’s response to the health insurance industry’s perfectly justified letter stating that because of the recent “reform” costs will rise. Ms. Sebelius responded:

“There will be zero tolerance for this type of misinformation and unjustified rate increases.”

That gem was included in a letter she wrote to insurers. But how can you cover millions more people without having rates go up? Secretary Sebelius seems to follow the magic wand theory: you really, really want to do something, so you wave a magic wand and it’s done. With no ill consequences. In other words, she’s running up against reality.

Also disturbing: the secretary’s threatening tone. On second throught, make that the secretary’s threat.

As Michael Barone notes:

As Time magazine’s Karen Pickert points out, Sebelius ignores the fact that individual insurance plans cover different types of populations. So that government and “some” industry and academic experts think the new law will justify increases averaging 1 percent or 2 percent, they could justify much larger increases for certain plans.

Or as Ignagni, the recipient of the letter, says, “It’s a basic law of economics that additional benefits incur additional costs.”

But Sebelius has “zero tolerance” for that kind of thing. She promises to issue regulations to require “state or federal review of all potentially unreasonable rate increases” (which would presumably mean all rate increases).

And there’s a threat. “We will also keep track of insurers with a record of unjustified rate increases: those plans may be excluded from health insurance Exchanges in 2014.”

That’s a significant date, the first year in which state insurance exchanges are slated to get a monopoly on the issuance of individual health insurance policies. Sebelius is threatening to put health insurers out of business in a substantial portion of the market if they state that Obamacare is boosting their costs.

“Congress shall make no law,” reads the First Amendment, “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

Sebelius’ approach is different: “zero tolerance” for dissent.