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Obama touts California as health-care reform model. Will costs really fall?

The impact of President Obama's health-care law on medical costs is hotly debated. On Friday, he argued his side, highlighting trends in a state where premiums by some measures may not change much.


US President Barack Obama speaks during a visit to San Jose, California, June 7.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

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President Obama used a visit to California Friday to promote his health-care reform law as widening access to affordable insurance.

Critics, however, say the law will push health premiums up, not down, and many Americans appear to share that worry.

The debate is complicated, and it may still be early to discern the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) impact on medical costs. The impact will differ somewhat from state to state, for one thing. And since the law says insurance must cover a fuller array of medical services, the product is changing – not just its price.

On Friday, Mr. Obama was clearly trying to shore up his side of the debate, highlighting trends in a state where premiums by some measures may not change much.

“You can listen to a bunch of political talk out there – negative ads and fear mongering geared towards the next election – or alternatively, you can actually look at what’s happening in states like California right now,” Obama said in remarks delivered in San Jose.

His words come at a time when public skepticism about the ACA, also known as Obamacare, has grown.

A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds 49 percent calling the law a “bad idea,” according to the website That’s a higher share than in 17 previous times when the question was asked. Some 37 percent, meanwhile, called the law a “good idea.”

And in a Christian Science Monitor/TIPP poll last month, 40 percent of Americans said their view of the law has grown “more negative” over the past year, compared with 15 percent whose view has become more positive.

The Monitor/TIPP poll asked people specifically about costs. About 6 in 10 said they expect health insurance premiums to “increase significantly.” Just 7 percent expect the law to bring premiums down considerably, and 25 percent expect essentially no change.


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