President Obama Says Insurance Exchange Enrollment Hit 4M
On Tuesday, President Obama said enrollment in coverage through the health insurance exchanges has reached four million, up from the 3.3 million at the end of January, the AP/ABC News reports.
During an event hosted by Organizing for Action, an advocacy group supporting the law's implementation, Obama urged 300 enrollment advocates to continue to push U.S. residents to sign up for coverage in the waning weeks of the open enrollment period. He said, "We've only got a few weeks left," adding that if people "want health insurance now, they need to sign up now." He added that the administration also would make a "big push" to try to increase enrollment before March 31.
Obama also highlighted the millions of U.S. residents who have benefitted from the law, either through Medicaid expansion or a provision allowing individuals to stay on their parents' health plans until age 26 (Superville/Thomas, AP/ABC News, 2/26).
Tavenner Touts Enrollment
Tavenner wrote, "Our outreach efforts are in full force with community partners and local officials participating in hundreds of events each week and enrollment assisters are helping more and more people enroll in coverage." She added, "Consumers are shopping and enrolling in plans on HealthCare.gov every day; system error rates are low and response times are consistently less than half a second," referring to the barrage of technical problems the website experienced after its Oct. 1 launch (Howell, Washington Times, 2/25). She noted that health officials are seeing a "strong demand nationwide" for coverage and that a federal call center has received more than 12 million calls since the fall.
Tavenner wrote that more detailed enrollment data will not be released until mid-March (Levine, Politico, 2/25).
Premium Payments Data Release Date Unknown
In related news, a CMS official on Tuesday said that detailed enrollment data separating those who enrolled in health plans from those who actually paid their initial premiums would not be available until an unspecified date, CQ HealthBeat reports.
The official said that CMS has "prioritized reporting the information that provides the most accurate snapshot of [exchange] enrollment-related activity available." The official continued, "Once our automated payment systems are completed and fully tested, CMS will determine the most appropriate way to report how many people have paid their premiums."
The official did not specify when the systems would be complete, but said the agency was working "24/7 to get this system ready" (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 2/25).
Sebelius Questions 7M Target, Criticizes GOP Govs Over Medicaid Expansion
Also on Tuesday, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during an interview with HuffPostLive tried to diminish the significance of an earlier estimate that seven million U.S. residents would enroll in coverage through the exchanges by the end of the open enrollment period, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports.
During the interview, moderator Marc Lamont Hill asked Sebelius three times whether enrollment would reach seven million. After deflecting the question the first two times, Sebelius said, "First of all, seven million was not the administration. That was a CBO, Congressional Budget Office, prediction when the bill was first signed." She added, "[T]he vice president has looked and said it may be closer to five to six [million]."
According to "Healthwatch," the administration initially embraced CBO's estimate (Easley , "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/25).
Also during the interview, Sebelius criticized Republican governors in several states for not expanding Medicaid under the ACA, calling the decisions "an outrage," The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports. She noted that the states are among those with the "highest level of uninsured African-Americans."
Sebelius specifically singled out Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) for putting "up barriers to giving people accurate information, and it has nothing to do with the constituents who live in that state. It's really about his own ideological battle with [Obama], and unfortunately in this case, people's health is at stake, and people's lives are potentially at stake."
She urged residents in Texas and the other three states -- Florida, Georgia, North Carolina -- to "put pressure on governors and legislatures to say, this is not acceptable" (Easley , "Healthwatch," The Hill, 2/25).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.