GOP wants new numbers on ObamaCare subsidies after premium hikes

GOP wants new numbers on ObamaCare subsidies after premium hikes
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Republicans in Congress are wary of a potentially steep increase in the cost of ObamaCare, and they want a fresh tally of how much the government will be spending on subsidies after insurance premium prices rise by double digits.

The GOP leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are asking the Obama administration for new numbers on the healthcare law’s subsidies after it confirmed Monday that premiums would increase by an average of 25 percent across the country next year. That’s more than three times last year’s increase.

Federal health officials stressed that the vast majority — about 85 percent — of people with plans through ObamaCare would be shielded from those premium hikes because they receive federal subsidies.

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Officials said another 22 percent of people with ObamaCare plans would be newly eligible for subsidies. 

That’s a total of about 600,000 people, according to Monday’s report.

The federal government was already expected to pay more in subsidies next year. But accounting for the higher-than-expected premium hikes, the total amount may also be more than budget analysts predicted.

Last year, the federal government paid about $40 billion for those subsidies, 11 percent more than the total cost of ObamaCare subsidies in 2015, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The average tax credit last year was $268 per month.

The Congressional Budget Office predicted the cost of ObamaCare subsidies would rise by about 5.4 percent each year over the next decade, eventually reaching $1.1 trillion.

Those subsidies are paid for through mandatory spending, which means Congress can't touch them without repealing that piece of the law.

“While the Administration continues to focus on premium ‘affordability,’ it ignores the undeniable fact that federal taxpayers are subsidizing these premium increases through tax credits,” GOP leaders on the committee wrote in a letter to Andy Slavitt, who leads the agency in charge of ObamaCare.

“The Committee is concerned that the federal taxpayer continues to bear the burden of subsidizing the growing cost of health care insurance,” the letter reads.