Senate GOP leaders seek math behind HHS' premium hike estimates

Last month, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters the total effect on premiums of all the insurance reforms under the new healthcare law "is likely to be less than 1 percent."

On Thursday, some well-placed Senate Republicans asked Sebelius to reveal how she crunched that figure.

Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Finance Committee, and Mike Enzi (Wyo.), senior Republican on the HELP Committee, worry that HHS has low-balled the estimate on premium hikes in order to sell the Democrats' health reform law.

“Every objective analysis I’ve seen points to higher costs and more spending — by government, by families and by employers,” Enzi said. "HHS needs to open the books and explain how it came up with these low numbers before we send the taxpayers a bill for another half a trillion dollars.”

In a July 22 letter to Sebelius, Grassley and Enzi are asking (among other things) for "any and all actuarial studies" related to the insurance reforms in the healthcare law.

"By your providing the detailed analysis supporting your estimates and complete answers to our questions," the senators write, "we can better reconcile these differences and give the American people the most accurate projections possible."

They've requested a response by Aug. 6.