President Obama on Tuesday laid the groundwork for the administration to blame insurers when health care premiums rise as a result of the new law he signed in March.
During the health care debate, critics of the legislation warned that premiums would rise as a result of the raft of new regulations placed on insurers. If government requires people to purchase policies that offer more generous benefits, it stands to reason that those polices will cost more money. Today, as part of a speech unveiling a new set of health care regulations, Obama gave us a preview of how the administration is likely to respond once premiums inevitably rise as a result of the law. He said:
The point is that there are genuine cost-drivers that are not caused by insurance companies. But what is also true is we’ve got to make sure that this new law is not being used as an excuse to simply drive up costs. So what we do is make sure that the Affordable Care Act gives us new tools to promote competition, transparency and better deals for consumers. The CEOs here today need to know that they’re going to be required to publicly justify unreasonable premium increases on your websites, as well as the law’s new website — healthcare.gov. As we set up the exchanges, we’ll be watching closely, and we’ll fully support states if they exercise their review authority to keep excessively expensive plans out of their insurance exchanges.
None of this is designed to deprive insurance companies of fair rates. And as I mentioned when we were meeting with the CEOs, there are a lot of cost-drivers other than those that are within insurance companies’ control.
This is a pretty audacious strategy by Obama. Pass a law that makes insurance more expensive, and then blame insurers for the increase in costs.