New HHS Report Touts Health Reform Benefits for Consumers, Retirees
Individuals and families who purchase insurance coverage through the state-based health insurance exchanges in 2014 will spend 14% to 20% less than they would have if the federal health reform law was not enacted, according to a report released by HHS on Friday, Politico reports.
The report is designed to counter Republicans' criticism that the reform law would cause consumers' insurance premiums to rise.
The report states that the savings would come from market reforms and regulation. It does not factor in the tax credits some consumers will be eligible to receive under the law, which would help lower premiums by more than 50% in some cases.
The report also cites "preliminary evidence" to show that several provisions in the law that already have been implemented will cause premium rate increases this year to be lower than in previous years.
The report also states that workers from more than 5,000 businesses and unions who retire early will see their premiums reduced through the reform law's Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. In addition, the report notes that although consumers will be required by the reform law to purchase more comprehensive benefit packages that could have higher premiums, their out-of-pocket costs likely will be reduced, Politico reports.
The HHS report acknowledges that the law's new consumer protections already have caused a modest increase in premiums. The report uses insurance industry analyses that estimate a 1% to 2% increase in premiums as a result of the new protections.
According to Politico, Republicans likely will challenge the HHS report's claims because the report omits certain data included in a November 2009 Congressional Budget Office analysis that projected that premiums will increase under the law (Feder, Politico, 1/28).
Democrats To Counter GOP Criticism
On Thursday, congressional Democrats said they plan to promote -- instead of defend -- the health reform law and its benefits to consumers as their strategy against the growing efforts by Republicans to dismantle the law and complicate its implementation, CQ Today reports. "It's time for us to go on the offensive," Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, adding, "We don't have anything to defend. Economically and morally, we are on the right side of the issue."
For example, Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) on Feb. 2 will oversee a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the constitutionality of the health reform law, ahead of a scheduled hearing in the House hosted by Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-Texas) (Ethridge, CQ Today, 1/27).
President Obama To Use Report in Speech to Families USA
Meanwhile, President Obama also will seek to promote the law instead of defending it.
On Friday, Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech at Families USA's annual conference, during which he is expected to prominently feature the HHS report, Politico reports.
According to a senior White House official, the report will be used as a centerpiece of the administration's renewed efforts to promote the overhaul (Nocera/Haberkorn, Politico, 1/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.