POLITICS: PennAve

White House week ahead: President to push Obamacare before Hawaii trip

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Hawaii,Health Care,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Healthcare.gov,Health Care Exchanges

The White House will continue to highlight the benefits of the Affordable Care Act this week, part of a broad effort to reassure Americans that the problem-riddled rollout of the healthcare.gov website will not sink the law.

President Obama has a light schedule this week as the Senate wraps up work on the first bipartisan budget deal in years. The only events on the White House schedule Monday are the daily morning presidential briefing between Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, a late afternoon meeting with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and a 1 p.m. briefing with press secretary Jay Carney.

The White House has not released a schedule for the rest of the week, with the first family's departure to Hawaii for the holidays slated for Friday evening.

“Details of next week's schedule will be released as they become available,” the White House said Friday.

The White House will try to promote the benefits of Obamacare as the administration plays catch up and looks to boost enrollment numbers during the holiday season. An administration official said the White House will coordinate with supporters of the health care law to highlight the “savings millions of consumers have already seen” because of Obamacare. The official did not indicate whether Obama will participate in the event.

The administration argues that Obamacare has slowed the growth in health care costs in the U.S. for the first time in decades. A White House official says the law requires insurance companies to spent at least 80 percent of premiums on medical care and efforts to improve the quality of care, instead of on administrative costs such as overhead or profits.

“If they don't, insurers are required to send consumers a refund to meet the threshold – either through a check in the mail, a reduction in future premiums, or another way to refund these savings to the consumer,” the official said.

The White House says that these provisions have helped 80 million consumers save $3.4 billion on their premiums in 2012.

But Republicans point to reports that consumers are getting hit with far higher premiums and deductibles under Obamacare, which they will have to pay in late December in order to have coverage come Jan. 1.

Avik Roy, a senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, testified at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing Thursday that the average state will see a 41-percent increase in premiums prior to the impact of Obamacare subsidies.

Among the states seeing large increases are Nevada (179 percent), New Mexico (142 percent), North Carolina (136 percent), Vermont (117 percent) and Georgia (92 percent).

The analysis also found that eight states will see average premiums decrease under the law, including Massachusetts (-20 percent), Ohio (-21 percent) and New York (-40 percent).

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