(CNSNews.com) – One day after 22 House Democrats joined Republicans in voting to delay Obamacare's individual mandate, President Obama used his bully pulpit to tout the law's benefits as well as the "savings" already resulting from the Affordable Care Act.
In a speech at the White House Thursday, the president explained that because of the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies must spend at least 80 percent of every dollar paid in premiums on health care. Those that don't meet that requirement must send their customers refunds.
"Last year, millions of Americans opened letters from their insurance companies -- but instead of the usual dread that comes from getting a bill -- they were pleasantly surprised with a check," Obama said. "In 2012, 13 million rebates went out, in all 50 states. Another 8.5 [million] rebates are being sent out this summer, averaging around 100 bucks each."
The president singled out by name some of the Americans for whom the rebates are making a difference.
"And this is happening all across the country, and it’s happening because of the Affordable Care Act," he said. "It hasn’t been reported on a lot. I bet if you took a poll, most folks wouldn’t know when that check comes in that this was because of Obamacare (laughter) -- that they got this extra money in their pockets. But that's what's happening," he said.
Rebates are one thing, but rising premiums are another.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, health care premiums for the average family cost $15,745 in 2012 -– an increase of $1,975 from the $13,770 they cost in 2010, the year President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Employees pick up some, but not all, of that cost.
But President Obama says competition in the new health care exchanges will bring premiums down for individuals who do not get insurance through their employers:
"Just yesterday, state officials in New York announced that average premiums for consumers who buy insurance in their new marketplace will be at least 50 percent lower next year than they are today," Obama said. "Think about that -- 50 percent lower," Obama said to applause. "So for people like Morgan who are self-employed, who have to buy on the individual market, they’re suddenly going to see opportunities not just for the rebates we discussed, but also for even greater savings in their monthly premiums."
Obama said the Affordable Care Act is doing what it was intended to do: "Deliver more choices, better benefits, a check on rising costs, and higher quality care."
He also took a swipe at the Republican-led House, which voted Wednesday to delay both the employer mandate and the individual mandate:
"...despite all the evidence that the law is working the way it was supposed to for middle-class Americans, Republicans in the House of Representatives voted -- for nearly the 40th time -- (laughter) -- to dismantle it. We’ve got a lot of problems in this country, and there’s a lot of work that Congress needs to do: get a farm bill passed, get immigration reform done, make sure we’ve got a budget in place that invests in our children and our future. And yet, instead we’re refighting these old battles. (Laughter.) Sometimes I just try to figure out why. Maybe they think it’s good politics. But part of our job here is not to always think about politics. Part of our job here is to sometimes think about getting work done on behalf of the American people, on behalf of the middle class and those who are striving to get into the middle class."
House Republicans said in voting to delay the key elements of Obamacare, they are acting in the best interests of businesses and individual Americans:
"This is a train wreck, and it is not ready for prime-time," Rep. Marsha Blackburn said ahead of the two votes.