Market Pressures May Keep Premiums Low As Health Law Kicks In

USA Today reports this optimisitic view is offered by some industry analysts and health insurance officials. Meanwhile, Politico does a status check on the legal challenges to the health law's birth control mandate. News reports also track the latest regarding the Internal Revenue Service controversy and the overhaul.

USA Today: Market, Insurers Will Keep Premiums Low, Analysts Say
Market forces and an impetus to attract younger, healthier people into the insurance market will help keep health insurance premiums lower as the 2010 health care law takes effect on Jan. 1, industry analysts and insurance officials say. "If they price too high, young people won't buy insurance, and that's going to hurt the companies," said Jay Angoff, who led initial implementation of the law for HHS. "They need these people to come in. It's an industry problem" (Kennedy, 5/21).

Here's an on-the-ground look at premium filings --

Oregonian: Oregon's 2014 Health Premium Filings Spark Relief, Questions
Massive health insurance premium hikes predicted as the inevitable result of federal reforms haven't materialized in Oregon. The lower-than-expected preliminary rates come as much-needed good news for the Affordable Care Act. The law, passed in 2010, has been plagued by resistance in Congress and complaints of snafus as the Jan. 1 startup for expanded coverage draws closer (Budnick, 5/21).

Also, the latest on the birth control mandate --  

Politico: Courts To Hear Birth Control Mandate Lawsuits
Obamacare’s birth control mandate will go before four different appeals courts over the next three weeks as private businesses that object to the policy on religious liberty grounds bring a barrage of lawsuits that opponents hope to get before the U.S. Supreme Court as soon as this fall. On Wednesday, two for-profit companies will ask the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike the requirement that they provide employees with insurance coverage that includes birth control and other drugs that they say can cause abortion. Three other companies will present oral arguments in different appeals courts by early June (Smith and Haberkorn, 5/22).

Bloomberg: Contraception Mandate Challenge Faces Appeal Court Judges
The U.S. law requiring employers to provide health insurance coverage for birth control is set to come before an appeals court in cases brought by two businesses whose owners say they operate according to Catholic doctrine. The businesses, a construction firm from southwestern Illinois and an auto-parts maker in southeastern Indiana, are scheduled today to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals in Chicago for an order barring enforcement of the measure while they challenge its constitutionality in lawsuits (Harris, 5/22).

In addition, tea party groups see the Internal Revenue Service scandal as a potential means to gin up health law opposition -

The New York Times: For Tea Party Groups, Shades Of 2010
Leaders of the Tea Party movement hope outrage over the I.R.S. inquiry will rekindle grass-roots activism that in many places went dormant after big Republican electoral defeats of November 2012. They aim to link the current scandal to other government programs they consider overweening -- principally the rollout of the health care overhaul law -- and generate a Republican wave in the 2014 midterm elections reminiscent of 2010's (Gabriel, 5/21).

In other related news --

The Hill: GOP Sen. Thune Urges IRS To Stop ObamaCare Work
Republican Sen. John Thune (S.D.) is demanding that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) refrain from implementing ObamaCare while investigators probe the agency's targeting of conservative groups.
Thune, who leads the Senate Republican Conference, wrote to the Obama administration Tuesday connecting the scandal to Sarah Hall Ingram, an IRS official who once had oversight of tax-exempt groups (Viebeck, 5/21).

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