Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell issued a pre-emptive attack against President Obama’s health care law on Thursday, hours before a speech in which the president will laud the early results of his signature reforms.
Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said rebate checks that Mr. Obama will tout in his remarks pale in comparison to the insurance premium increases that some people in his home state will experience because of the Affordable Care Act.
Senior administration officials said Mr. Obama will highlight about $500 million in rebates to 8.5 million customers nationwide because of the “medical loss ratio” provision in the 2010 Affordable Care Act requiring insurers to dedicate at least 80 percent of premium dollars toward patient care. If they do not, they must pay out rebates to customers.
“Sounds great, doesn’t it? Free money. But, as they say, most things in life that sound too good to be true very often are,” Mr. McConnell said Thursday. “And, in this case, it’s not so much that people will be getting free money as that most people will be paying many dollars more for their health care and maybe – just maybe – getting a few bucks back.”
The House passed a pair of bills on Wednesday that would delay mandates in the health care law requiring businesses and individuals to have coverage. Republicans in the majority led the charge, although a couple dozen Democrats joined them in supporting each delay.
The level of Democratic support could pressure the Senate to look at the bills, although their prospects are dim and Mr. Obama has threatened to veto each of them.
Democrats say Republicans are ignoring positive news about Obamacare, including word from New York that individuals who purchase insurance on a state-based exchange in 2014 will see their premiums drop by about 50 percent compared with last year’s rates.