Obama Talks Up Health Care Law’s Benefits

WASHINGTON (July 18, 2013)--The health care law is working and cutting costs for consumers, despite what the law's Republican critics say, President Barack Obama said Thursday at the White House.

Mr. Obama emphasized Thursday that half a billion dollars in rebates going to nearly 9 million people under a provision of the law he says is holding insurance companies accountable.

Insurers must spend at least 80 cents of every dollar on medical care or quality improvement, or refund the difference.

That's the $500 million consumers are getting in rebates averaging about $100.

Mr. Obama pitched the plan a day after the Republican-controlled House voted to delay two key provisions.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said free money sounds great but won't remove the sting of new health care taxes that will begin costing consumers next year.

"This is just another sad attempt by the administration to spin them into wanting a law they don't want," McConnell said on the Senate floor Thursday, before Obama spoke.

The GOP-controlled House on Wednesday passed, mostly along party lines, two bills to amend the law.

The House voted 264-161 to affirm the administration's decision to delay what's known as the employer mandate, the requirement that businesses of a specific size offer health care coverage to their workers. It also voted 251-174 to extend a similar delay to individuals who will be required to obtain health care coverage starting Jan. 1, or face fines.

The votes were held to score political points. The House measures have no chance of clearing the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House has said Obama would veto both if they were to reach his desk.

The goal of the health care law is to provide coverage to nearly 50 million uninsured people and lower skyrocketing costs, but the public remains skeptical about how their coverage may be affected. The administration's decision to delay the employer mandate only served to fuel more doubts.

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