While committee Republicans can be expected to blame premium increases and changes to provider networks on Obamacare, the truth is that health care costs and premiums were rising dramatically for years prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Between 2000 and 2009, every Republican committee member saw premiums in his or her home state rise at a rate that far outpaced wages, with insurers sometimes spiking plans’ costs by as much as 50 percent in a single year.
Yet instead of supporting the health care law’s protections against insurance industry abuses – including the provision that requires insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on actual medical care – congressional Republicans have pursued a extreme deregulatory agenda. In addition to their dozens of attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the party has pushed to allow insurance sales across state lines, tried to exempt certain types of plans from state oversight, and even signed onto alternative plans that don’t include the prohibition against pre-existing condition discrimination. Incidentally, congressional Republicans – including many of Oversight Committee members participating in today’s hearing – have received tens of thousands of dollars from top health care industry PACs.
To make matters worse, the majority’s witness list is full of conservative operatives and anti-health care reform crusaders, including a Romney campaign adviser and the author of an ALEC model bill. The GOP’s mission to destroy health care reform and replace it with a “free-market” alternative that lets insurance companies run wild suggests the Oversight Committee’s hearing is likely to be little more than another excuse to publicize extreme anti-Obamacare GOP talking points as we roll towards the 2014 elections.Read more after the jump.