Dump the Essential Health Benefits Mandate from Obamacare

Want to Attack Rising Health Insurance Premiums? Sign My Petition to Dump the Essential Health Benefits Rule from Obamacare.

Health insurance premiums keep rising. Industry studies show higher premiums across the country by an average of 41% in 2013 on individuals and 11-12% in 2014 in the individual and small group markets. In 2015, those increases averaged 24-31% for various plans on Idaho’s individuals and families. Finally, Idaho’s insurance regulator approved premium hikes of 7-26% in the individual and small group markets. And even though PacificSource is to go down by 8%, this follows their 20-26% increase in 2015 on Idaho families and individuals.

Let me offer a simple solution to attack rising health insurance premiums: Amend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by dumping the “Essential Health Benefits” (or EHB) rule. The EHB rule mandates that policies sold through health exchanges must include 10 mandatory products and services. This raises the cost of health policies by forcing people to buy products and services they don’t need.

The EHB rule also undermines freedom of choice. If the government is going to mandate people buy health insurance, at least let them choose the kinds of policies they need for themselves and their families. Finally, having the federal government decide what must be included as part of a health insurance policy takes power away from state legislatures and state insurance regulators.

Go to my website and sign my petition! Tell your federal senators and representatives you favor lower premiums, more freedom of choice, and want power over health insurance rules returned to state government. Tell them to “dump” the Essential Health Benefits rule from Obamacare!

A copy of the petition is below:

Mandate Petition

Dear Representative or Senator:

I urge you to amend the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by removing Sections 1302 and 1311 that mandate people purchase 10 Essential Health Benefits as part of their health insurance policies (Section 1302) and that allow the Secretary of Health & Human Services to override state legislatures and state insurance regulators by deciding what is included in those mandated benefits (Section 1311).

Mandated Benefits Lead to Higher Premiums:

Studies by several organizations show premiums have jumped in Idaho and across the country since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act – 41%, 24-31%, and 11-12% on individuals, families, and small businesses. For 2016, premiums in Idaho are projected to rise another 7-26%. That is tens of thousands of your fellow Idahoans, and millions of families throughout the U.S. facing unnecessary financial burdens. It’s also a hit to Idaho’s economy as higher premiums undermine struggling small businesses across the state.

A big reason for these increased premiums is due to the 10 Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) that mandate what people must purchase. Section 1302’s EHBs are driving anywhere from 3% to 33% of premium increases, according to a wide range of organizations that include the National Bureau of Economic Research, Milliman, the Manhattan Institute, America’s Health Insurance Plans, and the Congressional Budget Office.

There are those who will point to the federal subsidies as a way to deal with higher premiums that come from the Section 1302’s EHB rule. However, that simply means more pressure will be put on the federal budget (and taxpayers under 40 years old) to pay for higher subsidies for benefits people don’t want. CBO estimates the cost of subsidies will go from $17 bi. in 2014 to $137 bi. by 2024 on policies sold through health exchanges. Jonathan Gruber, a prominent health economist and policy expert, noted that a 10% rise in the cost of the Essential Health Benefits package would increase the cost to the federal government by 14.5%, while also reducing the rate of the insured by 4.5% through 2019.

Allowing health plans to be tailored to individual tastes would ease the subsidy cost pressure on the taxpayer by lowering the amount of subsidy needed to pay for rising premiums. This is even more important, given the Supreme Court’s ruling that subsidies apply to both state and federal health exchanges.

Undermines Freedom of Choice:

Sections 1302 and 1311 take away freedom of choice from consumers and businesses to buy the kinds of health policies they desire. This is because it requires they purchase health plans that include mandated benefits that are determined by the federal Department of Health & Human Services. Section 1302 states: “The Secretary [of Health & Human Services] shall define the essential health benefits…

If the federal government is going to force people to buy health insurance, it should let people have the freedom to choose the kind of health insurance they want.

Takes Power Away from State Legislatures and Insurance Departments:

Sections 1302 & 1311 he EHB rule takes away the power of state legislatures and insurance departments to decide what health policies can be sold in their states. Again, Section 1302: “The Secretary [of Health & Human Services] shall ensure that the scope of the Essential Health Benefits … is equal to the scope of benefits provided under a typical employer plan, as determined by the Secretary.” This is why companies like Hobby Lobby got into trouble; HHS forced them to offer contraceptives because HHS said contraceptives are part of “maternity care.”

Insurance and healthcare have both been the purview of state authorities. State elected officials are far more accountable than bureaucrats at the federal department of Health & Human Services. In Idaho, the new insurance commissioner is a former state senator. Allowing them to work together to tailor policies for Idaho here in Boise will lead to better policies than mandates from D.C.

For Idaho, having a “state health exchange” does not help because Section 1311 of the ACA prevents (with very few exceptions) a state exchange from accepting policies that do not include the mandated 10 Essential Health Benefits set by the Secretary of Health & Human Services. Section 1311 says, in part, that a state exchange is prevented from “establishing rules [that] conflict with or prevent … regulations … by the Secretary [of HHS].”


Sections 1302 and 1311 increases the cost of health insurance premiums, takes freedom of choice away from consumers and businesses, and undercuts the role of state legislators, state insurance regulators, and even state exchanges. Shifting this traditional state power from state legislators (and insurance regulators) and giving it to the Secretary of HHS and federal bureaucrats who don’t know Idaho hurts our families and employers, while undermining the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

I strongly urge you to get rid of Section 1302 and 1311 by amending the Affordable Care Act.

Let’s help Idaho’s struggling families by reducing some of the increased costs in premiums, by giving them back freedom of choice, and by restoring federalism. Thousands of Idaho families and small businesses need your help to maintain their standard of living and keep their businesses operating. Thank you.

Gem State Patriot News