The Republican propaganda against the Affordable Care Act is seemingly endless. It’s like I’ve said before, I’ve forgotten more of it than I can even remember. Be it the ridiculous “death panels” or the lie that it’s a government takeover of the health care system, Republicans have continually spouted off lie after lie when it comes to “Obamacare.”
One of their biggest talking points against the law has been that “premiums are going to skyrocket!” A claim I often laugh at considering health care costs were already skyrocketing before, but now Republicans simply blame any increase on “the evil Obamacare.”
They also tend to ignore that for many Americans, health care costs have gone down. And they completely ignore the millions of Americans who’ve gained access to health care, many for the very first time, thanks to Medicaid expansion.
Well, during a hearing where Republicans grilled key insurance executives about hikes in premiums, these executives essentially said that there was no way to say for certain what would happen to premiums. Even when Republicans continually pushed these executives to “take a guess” what might happen, they refused to do so.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), chair of the subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee that hosted the hearing, opened the questioning with what seemed like a laundry list of potential problem spots for the health care law.
Are people going to paying higher premiums in 2015?
“I can’t say for certain,” one of the executives replied. “I don’t have the exact numbers yet,” another said.
Do you know if your enrollees are paying more for insurance now under Obamacare? Do you know how many had their previous health plan canceled?
“We currently do not have that data,” one of the witnesses said.
A little while later, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), one of the more outspoken Obamacare critics in Congress, got audibly flustered as she continued to press insurers to reveal their business plans in front of their competitors, pressing the witnesses to give some indication of what Obamacare’s 2015 premiums will be.
“At this point, we can’t offer any guidance on where they’re going to fall,” Paul Wingle, a top executive at Aetna, told Blackburn.
“At this juncture, we do not have that information,” another witness said.
“A lot of uncertainty floating around up there,” Blackburn quipped. She then implored the witnesses to offer anything — even some kind of preliminary guess that might have been given to their top officials — of what was going to happen with the next year’s premiums.
“Have any of you conducted any interim analysis of what your organization’s premiums are going to look like?” she said. She asked for a show of hands. No witnesses volunteered.
“You have done no internal analysis on what the trend line is for these premiums? None?” Blackburn said, clearly exasperated. “It is baffling that we could have some of our nation’s largest insurers, and you all don’t have any internal analysis of what these rates are going to be.”
So here we had key insurance executives refusing to give into Republican efforts to get them to say that the Affordable Care Act is increasing premiums, which was clearly their intended goal during this hearing.
Even when they tried to pressure some of the witnesses to bash “Obamacare,” they couldn’t get them to do it.
But at the end of the day all we have is yet another instance where Republicans tried to set the stage for a round of “Obamacare” bashing to feed their talking points, but all they got was embarrassed instead.
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