U.S. Rep. Kind (D-WI) harshly criticized the release of misleading “estimates” from Governor Scott Walker’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI), claiming insurance rates for consumers will rise under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising, that the Walker Administration would release this misleading information aimed at undermining the Affordable Care Act,” said Rep. Kind. “For purely political reasons, Governor Walker has kept trying to derail the new health care reform law and the benefits it offers to consumers, and the release of this faulty data fits that pattern.”
The “analysis” by OCI attempted to compare rates being paid today by Wisconsin consumers to projected costs after ACA implementation in 2014. The Insurance Commissioner himself acknowledges that “the truth is that comparisons are difficult” between current plans and exchange plans, but then presents the misleading comparison anyway. The actual impact on premium rates and out-of-pocket costs for individual consumers will not be fully apparent until October 1, when the Health Insurance Marketplace opens.
The methodology used to produce the estimates is left largely unexplained, and the data also ignores several critical factors that would impact the cost of health insurance. First, the report by OCI does not include new tax credits, nor does it take into account pre-existing conditions and other factors. It also fails to account for the quality of plans and reduced out-of-pocket costs for new Marketplace plans compared with coverage currently available in Wisconsin, and neglects to acknowledge that premium rates alone do not reflect total consumer cost.
In reality, statistics from other states (many of which are committed to successfully implementing the health care reform law as opposed to undermining it for political reasons) indicate that the ACA will help lower costs for the average consumer. Although all the actual statistics won’t be available until October, there have already been studies done by the Department of Health and Human Services in 16 states finding that premiums were almost 20 percent lower on average than what the Congressional Budget Office projected.
“Clearly, this so-called ‘analysis’ presents incomplete information for the purpose of furthering a political agenda,” concluded Rep. Kind. “Instead of offering up distortions and misinformation, it would be nice to see the Walker Administration accept the fact that the ACA is the law of the land and start helping Wisconsin consumers get affordable health care coverage.”
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