Top official says health law's insurance markets are viable

Markets Associated Press

FILE - In this July 15, 2016 file photo, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell speaks during a session about opioids at the National Governors Association meeting, in Des Moines, Iowa. Addressing worries about rising premiums and ... dwindling competition, Burwell says the federal health care overhaul is sustainable even without any legislative fixes from Congress. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File) (The Associated Press)

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell is addressing widespread concerns about rising premiums and dwindling competition in the federal health care law's insurance markets.

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Burwell told reporters Thursday she believes the markets clearly are sustainable.

She says willingness by Congress to help smooth out problems would definitely help, but is not absolutely essential. Congressional Republicans committed to repealing "Obamacare" are unlikely to help.

The state-level markets that provide taxpayer-subsidized private health insurance now cover about 11 million people.

Burwell's stance reflects resolve by the Obama administration to mount a successful 2017 sign-up season in the face of a new round of problems. Subsidies will cushion the premium increases for most customers.