When the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee called in executives from top health carriers on Wednesday its chairman, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) was primarily interested in enrollment numbers and premium payment rates for plans sold via public exchanges. Some Republicans on the committee, in their questions to witnesses, appeared to be searching for ammunition to fortify an assessment that Obamacare has been misconceived from the start, and needs a fundamental overhaul.

But in addition to enrollment and payment data, its members also got a less critical perspective on the Affordable Care Act than they might have expected from an executive with America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the industry’s powerful trade group. Mark Pratt, AHIP’s senior vice president for state affairs, focused on how to build from the ACA’s foundation to make it better.

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