Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has acknowledged that President Obama’s health care law is partly responsible for the expected rise in health care premiums next year as the law’s major provisions kick in.
A local Rochester, NY NBC affiliate did a story about expected premium hikes by health insurers as the various mandates of the health care law go into effect and approached Schumer about the issue.
“Our insurance department is empowered to protect families, and we’re going to watch them like a hawk to make sure that they do,” Schumer said. “Because if they don’t, these rates could go through the roof.”
When asked whether Obamacare was causing the premium increases, Schumer responded, “It’s in part because of Obamacare, but health care costs have been going up by double digits for years and years and years. The good news is in this bill there’s a way to stop it.”
Let’s just take a step back for a moment. One of the central arguments being made for Obamacare, or the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, was that it was supposed to reduce the cost of health care. But now, with implementation fast approaching, here’s the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate arguing that yeah, it’s going to make health insurance more expensive, but only somewhat more expensive than the preexisting status quo of double digit increases that the law was supposed to combat in the first place.
What Schumer is suggesting as a remedy would effectively amount to price-fixing by insurance commissioners, which is not a sound economic policy. The health care law forces insurers to offer a raft of new benefits and to cover sicker patients with pre-existing conditions, all of which will drive prices up for younger and healthier beneficiaries.
UPDATE: That was quick. Schumer has now walked back his comments in a statement sent to Sahil Kapur of Talking Points Memo.