Top Republicans Call For Major Obamacare Changes To Bring Down Premiums

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Juliegrace Brufke Capitol Hill Reporter
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GOP lawmakers slammed the administration for the premium increases seen following Affordable Care Act’s implementation six years ago, calling for major policy changes during a House Committee on Ways and Means hearing Tuesday.

Citing the large number of insurers proposing double-digit increases – partially due to lower enrollment than expected and cost higher than were initially projected – a reduction in coverage options and the majority of the Obamacare exchanges closing, members on the panel said the bill has been a failure “failing ahead of schedule.”

“Estimates show that increases in 2017 could be double what we see this year and, in several states, these costs could spike by more than 50 percent with no end in sight. A 50 percent increase is outrageous,” Chairman Kevin Brady of Texas said in his opening statement. “Americans simply cannot afford to pay 50 percent more for their premiums.”

According to Joel White, the president of the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, the cost to income ratio is going to become unsustainable if policy stays as it is.

“CAHC is concerned health costs are too high and rising too fast. In fact, costs continue to rise faster than the economy, while premiums are increasing about three times faster than wages,” he said in his written testimony. “As a result, by 2030 the typical family will spend more than 50 percent of their income on health care.”

Democrats said Republicans are continuing their attack on Obamacare, arguing more Americans are covered under the ACA.

Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Texas said he believes there are numerous factors contributing to raising premiums.

“One of the major factors is the failure of this House and this Congress to do anything but engage in obstructionist tactics concerning the Affordable Care Act,” he said. “Whenever there is the discussion of the slightest improvement, ‘how can we make the Affordable Care Act more efficient, how can we make it more fair, how can it be better?’ There is nothing but repeal, repeal, repeal.”

Doggett alleged the administration has been more focused on defending the legislation from Republicans’ attempts to repeal it than policy areas of the bill that have room for improvement.

Republican Rep. Jim Renacci of Ohio said people who are now insured often can’t even use the insurance they gained through the landmark health-care legislation due to the high out of pocket costs.

House Republicans introduced their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare in June.

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