Fighting back against renewed criticism of his signature healthcare reform law, President Barack Obama touted a provision in the legislation that requires insurers to spend the bulk of premiums on medical care.
"Because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies have to spend at least 80 percent of every dollar that you pay in premiums on your health care -- not on overhead, not on profits, but on you," Obama said in remarks in the East Room of the White House on Thursday.
He added, "Now, many insurance companies are already exceeding this target, and they're bringing down premiums and providing better value to their customers."
Obama noted that other insurance companies that are spending less than 80 percent of premiums on medical care have to return the money to customers in the form of a rebate.
The president said 13 million rebates went out in 2012, with another 8.5 million rebates set to be sent out this summer, averaging around $100 each.
"This is happening all across the country, and it's happening because of the Affordable Care Act," Obama said. "It hasn't been reported on a lot."
"I bet if you took a poll, most folks wouldn't know when that check comes in that this was because of Obamacare that they got this extra money in their pockets," he added. "But that's what's happening."
Obama said even those that don't receive a rebate are benefiting from the law, claiming that Obamacare has helped to slow the rise of health care costs.
"We've got a lot more work to do, but health care inflation is not skyrocketing the way it was," Obama said. "And because of this new rule, because of the fact that it improves the value of the coverage that you purchase, last year alone, Americans saved $3.4 billion in lower premiums."
The president also took aim at ongoing Republican efforts to delay or repeal the healthcare law, accusing the GOP of refighting old battles rather than getting work done on behalf of the American people.
On Wednesday, the Republican-controlled House voted in favor of two bills to delay the law's individual mandate and its employer mandate.
Obama claimed Republicans have voted nearly 40 times to dismantle the healthcare law despite evidence that it is working the way it is supposed to for middle-class Americans.
"If the folks who have been trying to make political hay out of this thing, if they had some better ideas, I've already told them I'm happy to hear them," Obama said. "But I haven't heard any so far."
He added, "What I've heard is just the same old song and dance. We're just going to blow through that stuff and just keep on doing the right thing for the American people."
However, Republicans were unrelenting in their criticism of Obamacare, which House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, described as a "train wreck."
In a statement responding to Obama's remarks, Boehner claimed that the law is costing American jobs, forcing people to give up health plans they like, and driving up the cost of care.
"This law has to go," Boehner said. "Yesterday, the House passed legislation to delay both of the health care law's mandates to give equal protections - and some basic fairness - to individuals and families. The Senate should take it up immediately."
He added, "But we can't stop there. House Republicans will continue our efforts to fully repeal the president's health care law in its entirety once and for all."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ken., also lashed out at Obama's praise of the rebates from insurance companies, arguing that they are dwarfed by the increase in premiums caused by the law.
Critics of Obamacare have recently been emboldened by the administration's decision to delay the employer mandate, which requires businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to offer health insurance or pay a penalty.
Obama acknowledged that there are going to be "glitches" in implementing the law, noting that the same was true for Medicare and Social Security.
by RTT Staff Writer
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