The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

July 18, 2013

Obama to talk up health care law's rebates

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eager to counter Republicans intent on repealing his health care law, President Barack Obama will argue that it's working and hold up as proof half a billion dollars in rebates insurance companies are sending to some 8.5 million consumers as a result.

At the White House today, Obama will argue that his Affordable Care Act is holding insurance companies accountable and putting money back into the pockets of consumers. The rebates average about $100, spokesman Jay Carney said.

Obama was arguing his case a day after the Republican-controlled House voted for the 38th time to eliminate, cut funding or scale back the 3-year-old law since the GOP took control of the House in January 2011.

Carney also seized on reports that some states, including New York, California and Oregon, already are anticipating lower premiums because of health insurance marketplaces that are being set up under the law so consumers can comparison shop for the coverage they will be required to by next year.

"Competition and transparency in the marketplaces, plus the hard effort by those committed to making the law work, are leading to affordable, new and better choices for families," he said.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to spend at least 80 cents of every dollar on medical care or quality improvement instead of administrative costs, or refund the difference. That's the $500 million consumers will collect this summer, half the $1.1 billion insurers gave back in 2012.

Republicans say the law is unworkable and must be repealed, arguing it will hurt the economy and force employers to cut much-needed jobs. They say proof that the law is unworkable lies in the administration's recent, unexpected decision to delay for one year, until after the 2014 elections, a requirement that businesses with 50 or more employees provide them with health care coverage or pay a penalty.

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