The Hill: White House on defense after Sebelius remark on health law

By Justin Sink – 03/27/13 02:13 PM ET

The White House insisted on Wednesday that healthcare costs are falling after a member of President Obama’s Cabinet said some people could see their insurance premiums rise under the Affordable Care Act. 

“I would actually point to the results that we’re already seeing from the Affordable Care Act, which is a savings of $2.1 billion, and the analysis from the [Congressional Budget Office] that actually says, in the future, we’re gonna see rates that are lower for higher benefits,” deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Wednesday.

Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters late Tuesday that “there may be a higher cost associated with getting into that market” where “folks will be moving into a really fully insured product for the first time,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

That made Sebelius the first Obama administration official to acknowledge that insurance premiums could increase under the law.

Earnest said he had not read Sebelius’s remarks, but pointed to a blog post from Alan Krueger, the chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers, about the slowed growth of healthcare spending in recent years. 

“[He] said that, ‘Each year from 2009 to 2011 national health expenditure data shows the real rate of annual growth in overall health spending was between 3 percent and 3.1 percent,’ which is actually the lowest rate of growth since reporting began in 1960,” Earnest said, sidestepping the question of whether there will be an increase in premium costs for some people as a result of the law.

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