Senior Republicans have embraced the now-discredited insurance industry funded study on premium increases in the Senate Finance Committee’s health bill. While careful to not directly connect the study to the insurance industry, Republicans cite the study’s claim that premiums will increase by $4,000 and disingenuously argue that the Congressional Budget Office agrees with the insurance industry’s conclusions:
- Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ): CBO, and Milliman and PriceWaterhouse all agree that insurance premiums for families in America will go up.
- Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): I would like to go back to some of the discussion of the PriceWaterhouse Coopers study that was released and which has been criticized because it was paid for by the insurance industry…it would be a cruel outcome indeed if in fact, unintentionaly we actually increased their health insurance costs.
- Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY): And a recent study suggests that American families will pay more than $4,000 in 2019 because of this bill.
As Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf pointed out, the budget office did not conclude that premiums would increase under reform. “There are a variety of forces working on affecting private insurance premiums and the amounts that people would pay for health insurance and some of the changes in the proposal would tend to push down those premiums and some would tend to push up those premiums. And because there are so many conflicting forces, we have not been able to assess the impact on premiums,” Elmendorf said.
The insurance industry was correct to argue that a weak individual mandate would increase premiums — the final Senate bill needs to improve on the Finance bill’s affordability measures. But the industry’s very selective analysis undermines its conclusions and exposes the study as an industry attempt to protect the bottom line. An actual analysis of Congressional Budget Office data has concluded that premiums in the exchange would be lower than they are in the none group market today.