Last week a huge controversy emerged when it was discovered that Senator Harry Reid effectively eliminated the ban on annual limits in the merged bill. Democratic aides tried to defend the change by claiming the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said premiums would “go through the roof” without the loophole added by Reid. The new CBO report makes it clear that the CBO did not make such a dire claim. The report on the manager’s amendment states:
the provisions prohibiting the imposition of annual limits on coverage would tend to raise premiums slightly.
Increasing premiums slightly is dramatically different from sending premiums “through the roof.” I knew at the time that this argument was nonsense because premiums did not “go through the roof” in the House bill which does have a ban on annual limits.
It is good to see that this annual limit loophole has been mostly fixed in the manager’s amendment, but I think the American people deserve an explanation on how and why this important consumer provision was almost gutted. Clearly the previous defense for the elimination of the ban on annual limits was not based in reality.