ObamaCare architect Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel sought Wednesday to defend the embattled health care law he helped design, in a contentious interview with Fox News where he tried to pin the blame for rising premiums on Republican lawmakers.
Speaking with "The Kelly File," Emanuel acknowledged premium hikes in some markets are a "problem" that needs to be addressed. But he also accused critics of "cherry-picking" the worst-case scenarios.
"Some have gone up higher than others, but the premium hikes are because they came in, they did re-calibrate the market. They were trying to get market share, and it is a correction. It is a problem that we do need to address. But it is not across the board," he said. "And it is going to be a one-time increase.”
Emanuel also argued that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and other GOP lawmakers were to blame because of their push to prevent tax dollars from being used to cover insurance company losses.
"Republicans bear some of the responsibility for this," Emanuel said. "Remember: Marco Rubio eliminated some of the risk adjustment that actually buffered and helped the insurance companies in this situation. He took it out of the budget. And that is a serious problem.”
Host Megyn Kelly pushed back – reminding Emanuel that he was a principal player in the creation of the health care overhaul.
"You are the architect of the law, sir," Kelly noted. "Let's start with you. When I get Marco Rubio here, we'll talk to him. You're the architect. You said it was going to be stable, and what we're hearing today from the chief executive of the National Association of Health Underwriters is: In many states, the individual market is 'in a shamble.'"
Emanuel's defense of the law comes as fellow Democrats are suggesting changes to the system.
Former President Bill Clinton in particular criticized the law earlier this week during a campaign stop for his wife, calling it a "crazy" system that leads to rising costs for those unable to qualify for subsidies.
The former president has tried to walk back his statement.
But President Obama and his Democratic allies – including Emanuel – are also responding to a move by insurers to exit ObamaCare markets by pushing a so-called “public option.”
A public option – an insurance plan offered by the government – had been written into early versions of the bill but failed to make the final cut in the law signed by Obama in 2010. Many states have been scrambling in recent months to stop private insurers from exiting the market amid concerns over cost and other factors.
Emanuel has also recently backed the idea of a public option as a way to keep the president’s signature health care law afloat.