WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- President Obama will use a speech at the White
House on Thursday to tout how a provision in his signature health care
law is forcing health insurance providers to return money to consumers.
his administration facing deadlines to establish health care exchanges
in all 50 states by Oct. 1 and GOP lawmakers continuing to call for a
repeal of the law, the president is looking to trumpet the law by
highlighting one of the most tangible ways Americans are benefiting from
it even as his administration struggles to fully implement it.
that objective in mind, Obama will hone in on what is known as the
medical loss ratio provision of the health care law in his speech. The
provision requires insurers to refund customers when they spend less
than 80% of premiums they collect on medical care.
This year the
provision will result in 8.5 million Americans receiving $500 million in
rebates later this summer, according to the Department of Health and
Human Services. The agency estimates that the average rebate is about
$100 per family.
The speech by the president follows the Obama
administration's announcement earlier this month that it would delay
until 2015 the requirement that businesses with more than 50 employees
provide health insurance to their workers or pay a penalty. And the
GOP-led House approved the latest in more than three dozen votes on
Wednesday to gut the health care law. The Republican efforts, which
don't have support in the Democratic-controlled Senate, have been
dismissed by the White House as political grandstanding.
the president's point home, the White House has invited Americans who
have received a refund from their insurance companies to join Obama on
stage for his speech.
"This debate is all about the noise - it's
about the politics of the issue," said a senior administration official,
who previewed the president's speech for reporters on the condition
that he not be identified. "What a day like today ... reminds us of is
that the Affordable Care Act is about making sure that individuals
throughout this country get the peace of mind and security of knowing
that they and their families have some insurance that is there when they
need it to protect them and their families."
Insurers will be
doling out less in rebate money than they did last year. For 2011, 4.1
million people received about $152 per family, or a total of $1.1
The White House says insurers are paying fewer rebates in
2012 than in 2011, in part, because they are more strictly following
the law and are charging lower premiums.
On Wednesday, White House
spokesman Jay Carney also noted that some states, including New York,
California and Oregon, already are projecting lower premiums because of
health insurance exchanges that are being set up under the law.
Republican lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell,
counter that their constituents are seeing rates skyrocket and premium
increases would dwarf the rebates.
In remarks on the Senate floor
on Thursday morning ahead of Obama's speech, McConnell called the
president's efforts to highlight the rebates "just another sad attempt
by the administration to spin them into wanting a law they don't."