Obama: Exchange Enrollment Tops 7M, ACA ‘Here To Stay’
On Tuesday, President Obama announced that at least 7.1 million people had signed up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act's federal and state insurance exchanges, the Los Angeles Times reports (Abcarian, Los Angeles Times, 4/1).
Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Jay Carney said that total enrollment had crossed the 7-million mark late on Monday night, when the initial six-month open enrollment period officially ended (Frank, Modern Healthcare, 4/1).
The final enrollment figure surpasses the Congressional Budget Office's original enrollment projection of seven million, which the agency lowered to six million earlier this year following the troubled rollout of the federal health exchange website last fall (Los Angeles Times, 4/1).
Obama: Expect Challenges in Future, but Law 'Here To Stay'
Obama said, "Despite several lost weeks out of the gate with [HealthCare.gov], 7.1 million Americans" have already signed up for coverage through the ACA's exchanges." He added, "I want to make sure everybody understands -- in the months, years ahead, I guarantee you there will be additional challenges to implementing this law" (Easley, "Healthwatch," The Hill, 4/1).
According to Modern Healthcare, Obama "ticked off other accomplishments" that he attributed to the ACA. He said that:
- Three million young adults are now covered under their parents' health plans; and
- 100 million people now have access to preventive care, such as contraceptive coverage and mammograms (Modern Healthcare, 4/1).
Obama also directed a portion of his remarks towards those who have criticized the ACA or made false claims about the law and Republicans who are continuing their attempts to repeal it. He said, "Many of the tall tales have been debunked. There are still no death panels. Armageddon has not arrived. Instead this law has helped millions of Americans. The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay" (Los Angeles Times, 4/1).
Critics: Enrollment Data Still Lacking Specific Details
Several top Republican officials and other ACA critics reiterated that the Obama administration's enrollment updates continue to lack key data that would provide a complete picture about actual coverage rates and the success of the exchanges.
For example, the Obama administration has not yet announced:
- The number of enrollees who were previously uninsured;
- The number of enrollees who had paid their first month's premiums;
- The number of individuals who have signed up for benefits under Medicaid; and
- The number of younger, healthier individuals who signed up for coverage (Modern Healthcare, 4/1).
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said, "We don't know, of course, exactly what [the new enrollees] have signed up for, we don't know how many have paid," adding, "What we do know is that all across the country our constituents are having an unpleasant interaction with Obamacare" (Madhani, USA Today, 4/1).
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said the president "is taking a premature victory lap for his signature health care law" (Jackson/Madhani, USA Today, 4/2). He noted, "If the president feels so good about the so-called success of his health care law, then we encourage him to campaign with Mary Landrieu, Mark Pryor and all the other Senate Democrats who unanimously voted for Obamacare." According to USA Today, Landrieu and Pryor are among the incumbent Democrats from red states who are facing tough reelection challengers (USA Today, 4/1).
Michael Steel -- a spokesperson for House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) -- also criticized Obama's "victory lap." He said, "Every promise the president made has been broken: Health care costs are rising, not falling," adding, "Americans are losing the doctors and plans that they like -- especially seniors suffering under President Obama's Medicare cuts. Small businesses are afraid to hire new workers, hobbling our economic growth. That's why we must replace this fundamentally-flawed law with patient-centered solutions that will actually lower health care costs and help create jobs" (Los Angeles Times, 4/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.