Last week, Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.) asked insurance executives to raise their hands during a House hearing if they expected insurance premiums to fall under Obamacare. None raised their hands.
Now, Griffith has a new bill aimed at requiring these companies to be much more specific. Under his legislation, insurance companies would have to tell Congress whatever they tell the Obama administration about pending changes to insurance premiums.
Griffith says the bill is needed to ensure that people are aware of possible rate hikes they'll face under the health care law. He said he fears the Obama administration will keep this information secret once companies report their expectations in late June, particularly in the lead up to the midterm elections in November.
"The Insurance Rate Transparency Act would ensure that the American people are not kept in the dark for political reasons," he said last week.
The Obama administration has said it would let people continue to buy non-compliant health plans until late 2016. That was widely seen as an attempt to prevent possible penalties and rising insurance premiums from starting a political backlash against Democrats.
But Griffith worries that insurance companies may be about to announce premium hikes already, even with just 8 million enrollees in the federal health insurance exchange. At last week's hearing, insurance company representatives said they were expected to report their expectations on insurance premium changes to the Department of Health and Human Services by the end of June.
Under Griffith's bill, that same information would have to be given to Congress within 30 days.
At last week's hearing, Griffith asked several executives to raise their hands if they thought Obamacare would lower health insurance premiums by $2,500, as President Barack Obama promised. None raised their hands. He also asked if they thought premiums might fall by $2,000, or $1,500, but still none raised their hands.
"Thus far, Obamacare has seemingly failed to fulfill the president's promise," Griffith said when he proposed his bill. "And some of the nation’s largest health insurance providers were unable to confirm such a reduction under Obamacare when I recently asked them about that promise at a committee hearing.
"Congress has sought and continues to seek information and transparency from the administration about the implementation of Obamacare, about this and other broken promises," he added. "The American people deserve no less."