The Washington Times - September 12, 2013, 11:43AM

The Obama administration said Thursday that a provision of the new health care law should be credited for saving nearly 7 million Americans about $1.2 billion on their health insurance premiums in 2012.

Consumers kept their money because of a rate-review provision in the Affordable Care Act, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

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The measure took effect Sept. 1, 2011, and requires insurance companies to submit and justify to state regulators any proposed premium increase of 10 percent or more.

“Thanks to the health care law, we are seeing that holding insurance companies accountable is leading to increased competition and saving billions of dollars for consumers across the country,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said.

The health care law doled out grants to most of the states to help them set up rate-review programs.

Administration officials are building support for the law less than three weeks before state-based insurance markets debut, kicking off Obamacare in earnest.

Americans without employer-based coverage will be able to shop for health plans on the exchanges, often with the help of income-based subsidies.

Republican critics of the law say premiums will skyrocket on the exchanges in certain states, proving their concerns about the law.

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Supporters of the law highlight other states, where premiums are expected to decrease.