Obama Touts Benefits of Affordable Care Act During California Visit
During a visit to California on Friday, President Obama touted the benefits ofÂ the Affordable Care Act and encouraged Californians and other Americans to enroll in health coverage under the ACA, the AP/Washington Post reports (AP/Washington Post, 6/7).
According to federal officials, California has the country's largest health insurance market and about six million uninsured residents, making it a crucial place for ACA implementation.
The Obama administration seeks to have about seven million individuals across the U.S. enroll in state health insurance exchanges. Officials say that about 2.6 million of them need to be young and healthy individuals to help keep costs down for the overall pool of enrollees. Nearly one-third of such young individuals live in California, Florida and Texas.
Meanwhile, the White House says that the ACA will give coverage opportunities to more than 10 million uninsured Latinos, many of whom live in California (California Healthline, 6/7).
Details of Obama's Comments
During a visit to San Jose, Obama said, "The main message I want for Californians and people across the country, starting Oct. 1, if you're in the individual market, you can get a better deal" through state health insurance exchanges (AP/Washington Post, 6/7).
Obama said, "A lot of opponents of the ACA ... had all kinds of sky-is-falling, doom-and-gloom predictions that not only would the law fail, but what we would also see is costs would skyrocket." He added, "It turns out that what we are seeing in the states that have committed themselves to implementing this law correctly, we're seeing some good news."
His remarks come two weeks after California's health insurance exchange -- called Covered California -- announced lower-than-expected premiums for health plans (Levey, Los Angeles Times, 6/7). In 2009, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the average annual rate of exchange plans would be about $5,200. Rates provided by Covered California officials averaged about $3,600 per year, before subsidies (California Healthline, 6/7).
In addition, Obama said, "In California, we're already getting reports that insurers are giving rebates to consumers and small business owners to the tune of $45 million this year" as a result of the ACA's medical-loss ratio provision. The MLR provision requires that private insurers must spend at least 80% in the individual market, or 85% in the group market, of premium dollars on direct medical costs (Hepler, Silicon Valley Business Journal, 6/7).
The president also highlighted a multimillion-dollar partnership between the not-for-profit California Endowment and major Spanish-language media outlets that seeks to inform Latinos about enrolling in the state's insurance exchange (Los Angeles Times, 6/7).
Former President Clinton Comments on ACA
In related news, former President Bill Clinton on Friday challenged California to successfully implement the ACA to encourage states that still are undecided about the law and to silence critics, the Los Angeles Times' "Money & Co." reports.
During an address to physicians and health care executives in Los Angeles, Clinton said he remains optimistic about the ACA, despite GOP opposition and uncertainty among U.S. residents.
Clinton acknowledged there are bound to be "snags" in implementing such a complex law but said, "If this works in California, eventually America will follow your lead."He added, "If it comes off the rails here, it will give aid and comfort to everyone who really just wants to say, 'I told you so' without being able to pass any given 10-question test about the American health care system" (Terhune, "Money & Co.," Los Angeles Times, 6/7). 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.