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Letter to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services - Crapo Leads Letter To Sebelius Requesting Premium Rates Under Obamacare

Idaho Republican Senator Mike Crapo, a senior member of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, wrote U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius today, seeking detailed information about current and projected health insurance premium rates under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), or Obamacare. The letter comes in response to Crapo's recent questioning of Secretary Sebelius at a Finance Committee hearing, during which the secretary could not deny that health insurance premiums are on the rise. Crapo was joined on the letter by all other Senate Finance Republicans.

In the letter, the senators wrote, "In a 2009 analysis, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) "projected'family premiums would reach $15,200 in 2016, as opposed to $13,100 without PPACA. During recent testimony before the Senate Finance Committee members, you [Sebelius] asserted that premium rates are 16 percent lower than the CBO projected rates for 2016. However, more recent studies have consistently shown premiums for both individuals and families are skyrocketing. Even more concerning is that current premium data does not fully reflect the law's mandates, some of which have yet to take effect."

In an effort to perform proper oversight and gain a full understanding of the actual rates after enactment of PPACA, Crapo and other signers are requesting the following:

Ø The average premium rates for individuals age 27, 40 and 64 years for the following categories:

o In each of the bronze, silver, and gold plans offered on the health care exchanges.

o The rates for these exchange-based plans before tax-payer funded subsidies.

o A breakdown of these rates for the 27 states participating in the federally-facilitated exchange, the 7 partnership marketplaces, and the 17 state-based marketplaces.

o The rates for individuals who continue to receive employer based health insurance.

"President Obama repeatedly promised premiums would go down by $2,500 for the average family," Crapo said. "As we now know, this is simply not the case. Theadministration's continued efforts to further sell the president's signature health care law to the public by making misleading claims and comparisons is only hurting the American people. In order to fully understand the serious impacts this law is having on our health care system and economy, it is essential we have updated and transparent information from the administration. Weare simply requesting that the president and HHS be forthcoming with actual premium rate data post-enactment of Obamacare."

"Moreover, the health care law has increased taxes, forced millions of Americans from health insurance plans and doctors they had and liked, ballooned out-of-pocket expenses, cut Medicare services and undermined the employer-based health insurance market that so many families rely upon," Crapo added.

Background:

Ø On November 6th, 2013, Crapo along with other members of the Senate Finance Committee questioned HHS Secretary Sebelius about the rollout and implementation of PPACA.

Ø Crapo challenged the secretary to further explain her claims that premiums in the individual market are going down. Sebelius held that the rates are lower "based on the CBO [Congressional Budget Office] projections," but Crapo noted those are the projections based on selective data and are inconsistent with recent studies. Ultimately, the secretary would not confirm on the record that rates are going down, only that they are lower than previous "projections." To watch video of this exchange, click here.

Ø Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Senator Barack Obama repeatedly promised that his health care plan would bring down premiums by as much as $2,500 for the typical family. As president, he continued to make this claim, even after studies demonstrated premium costs were on the rise.

Ø An August 2013 Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that annual premiums for employer-based health insurance for families would increase from $13,375 in 2009 to $16,351 in 2013. Further, a recent Manhattan Institute for Policy Research study found that individual premium rates will increase, on average, by about 41 percent from their pre-PPACA levels.

The full text of the senators' letter is below:

December 12, 2013

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius

Secretary

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20201

Dear Secretary Sebelius:

We write seeking detailed information about current and projected health insurance premium rates under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

Throughout the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Senator Barack Obama repeatedly promised that his health care plan would bring down premiums by as much as $2,500 for the typical family. As president, he continued to make this claim, even after studies demonstrated premium costs were on the rise. In a 2009 analysis, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) "projected" family premiums would reach $15,200 in 2016, as opposed to $13,100 without PPACA. During recent testimony before the Senate Finance Committee members, you asserted that premium rates are 16 percent lower than the CBO projected rates for 2016.

More recent studies have consistently shown premiums for both individuals and families are skyrocketing. Even more concerning is that current premium data does not fully reflect the law's mandates, some of which have yet to take effect. An August 2013 Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found that annual premiums for employer-based health insurance for families would increase from $13,375 in 2009 to $16,351 in 2013. Further, a recent Manhattan Institute for Policy Research study found that individual premium rates will increase, on average, by about 41 percent from their pre-PPACA levels.

For Congress to conduct proper oversight of the implementation of PPACA, it is important that Congress and the public have detailed information about the monthly costs of health insurance premiums. Therefore, we request your assistance in obtaining the actual rates after the October 1, 2013 enactment of PPACA.

* Please provide the average premium rates for individuals age 27, 40 and 64 years for the following categories:

· In each of the bronze, silver, and gold plans offered on the health care exchanges.

· The rates for these exchange-based plans before tax-payer funded subsidies.

· A breakdown of these rates for the 27 states participating in the federally-facilitated exchange, the 7 partnership marketplaces, and the 17 state-based marketplaces.

· The rates for individuals who continue to receive employer based health insurance.

Thank you for your assistance in this matter.

Sincerely,

Senator Mike Crapo

Senator Orrin Hatch

Senator Chuck Grassley

Senator John Cornyn

Senator Pat Roberts

Senator Johnny Isakson

Senator Richard Burr

Senator Mike Enzi

Senator John Thune


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