Earlier this week, the health insurance industry released a study concluding that the Finance Committee bill—one of five competing House and Senate healthcare measures—would raise premiums significantly for millions of people who already have health coverage. The report drew intense criticism from the White House, Democrats in Congress and other advocates of the bill.
Obama took aim at the report in his speech, contending that industry was "filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads," sending money and lobbyists to Capitol Hill and paying for studies "designed to mislead the American people."
Republican opponents of the bills say the increased cost will be passed on to patients, further job losses and give the government more say in who gets medical care and what kind.
"Americans inherently know government interference drives costs up, not down," Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, said in the GOP's weekly message. "The massive healthcare plans being crafted behind closed doors in Washington will ultimately allow the government to decide what doctors we can see, what treatments the government thinks you deserve and what medicines you can receive."
In general, the bills moving through Congress would require most Americans to buy insurance, provide federal subsidies to help lower-income people afford coverage and help small businesses defray the cost of extending coverage to their workers.
The measures would bar insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing medical conditions and limit their ability to charge higher premiums based on age or family size. Expanded coverage would be paid for by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from future Medicare payments to healthcare providers.
The House and Senate bills also envision higher taxes—an income tax surcharge on million-dollar wage-earners in the case of the House and a new excise levy on insurance companies selling high-cost policies in the case of the Senate Finance Committee bill.