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Policy: Entitlements

White House releases state-by-state report on Obamacare benefits

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Politics,White House,Health Care,Entitlements,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Health Care Exchanges

The White House released a state-by-state report touting the benefits of Obamacare for consumers in a continued push to boost enrollment after the rough rollout of the federal exchanges this fall.

In releasing the report, the Obama administration hopes to highlight the health care law's benefits across the country, including in states where the law is unpopular, as well as the costs of repealing it.

“[The law] helps Americans who already have insurance feel more secure in their coverage, ensuring it'll be there when they need it,” the White House said in a release Thursday. “This is a pocketbook issue for many middle-class families.”

The holiday-season pitch comes after months of negative publicity about the health care law. The healthcare.gov website, which was barely functioning for nearly two months, has now stabilized, but not before the law and President Obama's poll numbers took a beating.

Part of those flagging figures can be directly traced to Obama's broken promise that Americans could keep their current insurance plans. Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people have either received cancellation notices over the last few months or could be dropped from their plans in the coming months.

But Democrats say there's no turning back. They say the law’s benefits, which many are already receiving and others will see when their Obamacare coverage kicks in next year, are life-changing for millions of Americans and beneficial for businesses as well.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat and one of the key architects of the law, says she hears from families who are so grateful that their children with a pre-existing condition can now get life-saving coverage.

“Before, people got sick and they got dropped,” she said. “Women got breast cancer and they got sick and got dropped… when they really needed [insurance], it wasn't there.”

“Too many families had to go bankrupt and lose their houses and everything because of some health care problem and fortunately that's changing,” she added.

Since the law was enacted, the White House says, the law helped up to 129 million Americans with pre-existing conditions - including 17 million children - gain access to or keep their insurance.

In addition, more than three million young adults have gained insurance by staying on their parents' health plans until age 26.

The law also prevented insurance companies from charging higher premiums to those with prior conditions.

The White House also said 71 million Americans who already had insurance gained coverage for at least one free preventive health care service, including a mammogram, birth control or immunization in 2011 and 2012. So far this year, 25 million more people on Medicare also have received one preventive service at no out-of-pocket cost.

Under the law, 60 million Americans have gained expanded mental health and substance use benefits, and 41 million uninsured Americans have new health insurance options through Medicaid or private health plans on the federal exchange.

Consumers have saved $5 billion over the past two years because of a new requirement that insurers spend at least 80 percent of premium dollars on care for patients, and if they don't they must send consumers a rebate, the White House said. Just this year, 8.5 million enrollees received rebates averaging $100 per family.

“Repealing the law would raise premiums, allow discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, force women to pay for preventative services like mammograms, and eliminate discounts seniors get on prescription drugs,” the White House said.

Republicans, however, say they are equally concerned about the impact the law is having on family budgets. They point to reports and analysis that shows that the health care law is driving up insurance costs and leading to fewer doctor choices for consumers.

During a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last week, Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, said his analysis found that the average state will see a 41 percent increase in underlying premiums prior to the impact of Obamacare subsidies.

This story was published at 2:03 p.m. and has been updated.

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