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Health Care Edge

6 Million - Health Care Edge: Brought to you by the Coalition to Protect America's Health Care

March 28, 2014

6 Million 

By Sam Baker, Sophie Novack and Clara Ritger

SIGN-UPS TOP 6 MILLION: More than 6 million people have chosen an insurance policy through Obamacare's exchanges, with four days left to go in the enrollment period. It's not quite right to say the exchanges have met the CBO estimate of covering 6 million people this year, since some number of these sign-ups won't go on to pay their premiums. And we still don't know how many enrollees were previously uninsured. But crossing the 6 million mark is nevertheless a big political victory for the Obama administration, given all the doom-and-gloom predictions the law's critics made in October and November. And, of course, the more people sign up, the more people pay their premiums and actually get coverage.

 

Top Health Care News

ENROLLMENT: "The actual enrollment number is likely to rise, in part because of recent changes to the law's implementation. The administration announced this week that it would extend the March 31 deadline into mid-April for those individuals who tried to enroll but failed to do so, and until the end of May for battered spouses who had previously been barred from receiving tax subsidies." (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)

HOUSE PASSES SHORT-TERM DOC FIX: GOP leaders used a voice vote to pass the one-year patch Thursday. Was this anything other than sneaky? "To quote the House of Cards, 'You might very well say that, but I cannot comment that,'" said Rep. Gerry Connolly D-Va., who vocally voted no. (Elahe Izadi and Billy House, National Journal)

  • Watch the hasty approval on C-SPAN

  • Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid scheduled a 5 p.m. vote on Monday on the House's short-term patch--the last day for Congress to avert a 24 percent cut to Medicare physicians' pay. All eyes are on Senator Ron Wyden to see if he can get enough votes together to send a permanent deal back over to the House.

Enrollment

WHY THE TOTAL ENROLLMENT NUMBER IS ACTUALLY BIGGER THAN YOU THINK: "Off-exchange enrollment is the forgotten piece of the Affordable Care Act, but it could represent millions of people who are also getting covered as a result of the health care law—many of whom are the young, healthy customers the administration is so aggressively pursuing. Unfortunately for the White House, no one really knows what those numbers are, and few are talking about them at all." (Sophie Novack, National Journal)

OBAMACARE MILESTONE HIT, AND MILES TO GO: "In San Antonio, advocates hope to ultimately enroll about one-fourth of those eligible this year. But they also view that as just the first stage of a long march. 'After March 31, we will take one minute to break,' [Andrea Guajardo, health director for the nonprofit CHRISTUS Santa Rosa health system] says, 'and then we will start planning for next year.'" (Ron Brownstein, National Journal)

Exchanges

OBAMACARE PROGRESS SHOWS DISPARITIES BY STATE: "It's almost like trying to predict the local weather from national averages," said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "This is really now a state and local game, not a national one." (Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear, New York Times)

TROUBLED STATE EXCHANGES CONSIDER JOINING FEDERAL MARKETPLACE NEXT YEAR: "Exchange officials in Oregon, Maryland and Massachusetts are weighing whether to enlist new private technology contractors or to turn to the federal government after faulty exchanges slowed enrollment in their states to the lowest rates in the country...Of the 36 states that signed up residents via HealthCare.gov for 2014, Idaho and New Mexico say they will run their own online enrollment for 2015, according to spokespeople in those states." (Caroline Humer, Reuters)

Outreach and Implementation

CMS EMBRACES MESSAGING ON INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO ENCOURAGE ENROLLMENT: "CMS not only is now talking about the penalty, but also it isn't mentioning that it starts at $95. It's become clear in recent weeks that people tend to see $95 as the amount they would have to pay, rather than 1% of their income above the tax filing threshold, which is often more." (Louise Radnofsky, Wall Street Journal)

UNIVISION WORKS TO GET LATINOS ENROLLED IN OBAMACARE: "We've always looked at it with the simple fact that this is the law, it was approved by Congress, it was approved by the Supreme Court. It has an outsized impact on our audience because of the statistics on uninsured Latinos," said the Spanish language network's Empowerment Initiatives Director Stephen Keppel. "We definitely want to give people all the tools they need to get enrolled. Our basic messaging on the website is: Find out what you are eligible for and enroll. And if you don't enroll you have to pay a fine and that's what it means." (Kate Nocera, Buzzfeed)

THE WHITE HOUSE GOT ON BUZZFEED TO PROMOTE ACA ENROLLMENT: The 7 reasons--in GIFS--why Vice President Biden thinks you should get covered. (The White House, BuzzFeed Community)

THE OBAMACARE REPORT CARD: The highs and lows of the health law's first six months of enrollment. (David Nather, Politico)

Insurers

OBAMACARE PREMIUMS A GUESSING GAME--AGAIN: "With a year of real-world experience under their belts, insurers should, in theory, find it easier to set premiums for 2015. But because it's no longer legal to discriminate against people with preexisting conditions, the Obamacare application doesn't ask about health status. Which means the only data firms have is what they've collected from enrollees so far—and that's not much." (Sam Baker, National Journal)

Congress

OBAMACARE MODIFICATION PROPOSALS UNLIKELY TO GET A VOTE IN THE SENATE: "We all know realistically that none of these fixes will get through the House," Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters Thursday. (Sam Stein, Huffington Post)

Disorder and Illness

AUTISM RATES INCREASE DRAMATICALLY: According to a new Centers for Disease Control report, one in 68 American children is now on the autism spectrum--a 30 percent increase from the agency's most recent study, released last year, when one in 88 children were thought to be affected, and more than double the number who had some form of autism in the agency's 2000 study. (Sarah Mimms, National Journal)

  • However, CDC cautions that higher numbers may not actually mean an increase in cases, but that we're getting better at identifying them. (Jon Hamilton, National Public Radio)

CALIFORNIA MEASLES OUTBREAK IS WORST IN TWO DECADES: Twenty-one Orange County residents have been diagnosed with measles in 2014, and seven have been hospitalized. (Ryan Jaslow, CBS News)

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