Rep. Roskam on Rising Obamacare Costs in 2016: ‘Proposed Premium Hikes are 10% or More’

Ali Meyer | June 25, 2015 | 10:53am EDT
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In this Jan. 4, 2013, file photo, Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., left, and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of Calif., shuttle between the House floor and the offices of House Speaker John Boehner, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo)

( - Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.) criticized the Affordable Care Act (ACA), otherwise known as Obamacare, at a congressional hearing on Wednesday, saying “premiums are going up” and explaining how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) has proposed premium hikes of 10 percent or more in 2016.

“But look at the facts: premiums are going up. Emergency room use is rising. Co-ops are failing. There’s certainly a wave of evidence, and it’s definitely pointing to one clear conclusion: Obamacare is not working," said Roskam at the House Ways and Means Committee hearing on “Rising Health Insurance Premiums Under Obamacare.”

"Now, for the first time since the ACA became law, insurers are able to look at a full year’s worth of claims data to calculate premium prices for the year ahead,” said Roskam. “The proposed premium hikes tell us a lot about how much health care cost last year and what insurers calculate health care will cost this next year. On June 1, CMS made public proposed premium hikes of 10 percent or more for the 2016 plan year, and many of the proposed increases are eye-poppingly huge.

"For five years, the Obama administration insisted that the law would reduce health care costs,” said the congressman. “President Obama said, 'We can cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 a year.' The nonpartisan fact checker Politifact called that a 'broken promise.' President Obama pledged that insurance premiums 'will go down.'

In fact, we’re five years in, and health insurance costs under Obamacare aren’t going down—they’re going up,” he said. Roskam explained how different states such as Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee and South Dakota have seen costs climb.

"In Maryland, CareFirst Blue Choice, which covers approximately 80 percent of the individual market, has asked for an average increase of nearly 30 percent. In Missouri, Coventry Health has requested an increase of 22.7 percent. In North Carolina, Blue Cross Blue Shield has asked for an increase of 25.7 percent. In Tennessee, Blue Cross Blue Shield has asked for an increase of 36.3 percent. In South Dakota, one of the largest insurers, Wellmark, has asked for premium hikes between 24 percent and 51.5 percent.”

Proponents of the ACA say that it has improved the uninsured rate and rates have not increased.

“Today, I’m happy to report that our state’s uninsured rate is at 8.5 percent - representing a drop of almost 40 percent since the Affordable Care Act took effect and the lowest rate we’ve seen since at least 1987,” said Mike Kreidler, Washington state’s insurance commissioner, who testified at the hearing. “We have not seen premiums soar. In fact, we’re experiencing record low rate requests, and in most cases, approving even lower rates.”

Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.) disagreed, saying that costs have increased in his state.

“The president campaigned aggressively on the promise to lower out-of-pocket expenses for families by roughly $2,500 a year. However, insurers that cover my constituents just in the last two years we’ve seen an increase by one insurance provider 22.9 percent in 2014,” he said.

“This year, they’ve requested an additional 22.7 percent increase because of the one-size-fits-all approach under Obamacare of all the different burdens and regulations, rules, everything that's coming into place, but in my opinion, this administration cannot continue to believe that Obamacare will reduce costs for families and individuals,” said Smith.

“Throughout my district that’s not what I’m hearing back home. That’s what I don’t believe is a reality, but the families in my district need a health care system with more choice, more access, and that’s more affordable, but what I seem to be reading on a daily basis is that instead of more choices, we are getting fewer,” he added.

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