Enrollment Ends Today
T-MINUS A COUPLE OF HOURS: The debate over the Affordable Care Act has consumed the better part of the Obama presidency, and it's all been for this: the end of the first open enrollment period. If the photos the White House and OFA were tweeting out over the weekend are any guide, there was a pretty significant last-minute surge in sign-ups -- on top of the roughly 1.8 million people who already picked a plan this month. So, it's the end of open enrollment, and National Journal is ON IT: be sure to read our assessment of what happens next for the health care law; our look at what comes next for the pro-enrollment organizers; and our interview with Karen Ignagni of America's Health Insurance Plans.
Top Health Care News
WHAT COMES NEXT FOR OBAMACARE: The law cleared its first set of hurdles. But will people like their plans? What will happen to premiums in 2015? Is Obamacare going to grow on the public? (Sam Baker, National Journal)
OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT: LESSONS FROM YEAR ONE: Navigators and volunteers set up shop in thousands of communities nationwide to get people signed up for health coverage. How they got the health law's sign-ups past 6 million is part of the lesson for next year's enrollment push. (Clara Ritger, National Journal)
'EVERYBODY WAS SURPRISED BY OCTOBER 1': A Q&A with Karen Ignani of America's Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry's leader in Washington. (Sam Baker, National Journal)
Obamacare On the Ground
IN NEW HEALTH CARE ERA, BLESSINGS AND HURDLES: "Yet beneath the loud debate, the law is quietly starting to change the health care landscape. In Kentucky alone, more than 350,000 people — about 8 percent of the state's population — have signed up for coverage. Insurers and medical providers are reporting steady demand from the newly covered for health care, ranging from basic checkups to complex surgical procedures." (Abby Goodnough, New York Times)
INSURERS ALREADY CALCULATING 2015 PREMIUMS AS OBAMACARE KICKS IN: Now it's all about the medical bills. (Chad Terhune, Los Angeles Times)
OBAMACARE HITS MILESTONE, BUT DETOURS AHEAD FOR HEALTH LAW: "It will take years to determine whether the law will accomplish its mission of creating stable insurance markets that can help a significant number of America's nearly 50 million uninsured gain health coverage, experts say." (David Morgan, Reuters)
REPERCUSSIONS AND REPRIEVES AT HEALTH INSURANCE ENROLLMENT DEADLINE: "The confusion and uncertainty of the last six months appear likely to continue as consumers, including some who have never had insurance, begin using new policies for the first time. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions." (Robert Pear, New York Times)
The Enrollment Numbers
LAST-MINUTE APPLICANTS FLOOD INSURANCE ENROLLMENT OFFICES: The federal enrollment website appeared withstand the surge of applicants without major issues, but the human capacity maxed out, with too few enrollment workers to help consumers through the process. (Louise Radnofsky and Jennifer Corbett Dooren, Wall Street Journal)
ACA EXCHANGES SEE RECORD VOLUME IN LAST ENROLLMENT PUSH: The administration says HealthCare.gov saw two million site visits this weekend, while the call centers received 380,000 phone calls, ahead of the March 31 deadline. (Justin Sink, The Hill)
INSURERS REPORT YOUNGER CONSUMERS ENROLLING AHEAD OF DEADLINE: "'We are seeing our average age come down every week, so it's clear that younger people are starting to come into the pool,' said Wayne DeVeydt, the chief financial officer of WellPoint Inc. 'What isn't clear yet, though, is, did it come down enough.' WellPoint has said the demographics of its sign-ups have generally matched its projections." (Anna Wilde Mathews and Christopher Weaver, Wall Street Journal)
OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT COULD HIT 7 MILLION TARGET AS SIGN-UP ENTERS FINAL DAY: When HealthCare.gov launched and slowed the process of getting coverage, the administration rethought its initial target of 7 million customers. New numbers suggest they may get there anyway.(Bruce Japsen, Forbes)
CALLING ALL PROCRASTINATORS: "'I've talked to a lot of people who are looking at the range of options available to them [and are] waiting until the last second to lock it in,' White House Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett said in an interview. 'I saw a great deal of interest and curiosity.'" (Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)
The Political Battle Ahead
THE OBAMACARE ENTHUSIASM GAP: "Irony Alert: The Democrats' biggest challenge this fall is to get their voters excited about a law they asked for." (David Nather, Politico)
DEMOCRATS, REPUBLICANS PREPARE FOR NEW ROUND OF BATTLES OVER HEALTH-CARE LAW: What comes next for Obamacare: premiums' trend, the political impact, rising enrollment, and penalties kick in. (Juliet Eilperin, Amy Goldstein and Sandhya Somashekhar, Washington Post)
MARYLAND TO REPLACE BROKEN ACA HEALTH EXCHANGE WITH CONNECTICUT'S SYSTEM: Maryland's $125.5 million system has faced serious problems since its launch Oct. 1, while Connecticut's has operated smoothly. (Mary Pat Flaherty and Jenna Johnson, Washington Post)
OBAMACARE IN WASHINGTON STATE: 'NO FRILLS' SUCCESS: "In this far corner of the Pacific Northwest, Washington state shows what can happen when an Obamacare exchange launches — and doesn't crash and burn." (Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)
OBAMACARE IN OREGON: A FAILED EXCHANGE: "Oregon had all the right ingredients for a sparkling Obamacare success story: a Democratic doctor as governor, an eager Legislature and a history of health care innovation. It ended up with Obamacare's biggest technological disaster." (Jennifer Haberkorn, Politico)
Happening This Week
SENATE TO VOTE ON THE SGR: The Senate could vote on a permanent repeal and replace bill today, if they can cobble together the votes. If not, it's on the Senate schedule to consider the House's short-term patch sent over late last week.
HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE HEARING ON GENERIC DRUG LABELS: The FDA's proposed changes to generic drug labeling have been the subject of much debate among prescription drug makers. The committee will hear FDA and stakeholder testimony at 3:00 p.m.
SENATE APPROPRIATIONS FY2015 BUDGET HEARING: The committee will hear from the National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins at 10:00 a.m. in Dirksen.
LONG TERM CARE: IS THERE A BETTER WAY TO PAY FOR IT? The American Enterprise Institute holds a discussion--also webcast--at 12:15 p.m. with its scholars, professors and health care consultants.
HOUSE HEARING ON DEFENSE HEALTH PROGRAMS: The House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee will hear testimony from Assistant Defense Secretary for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson; and Chris Miller, program executive officer for the Defense Health Care Management System at 1:30 p.m. in Rayburn.
NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR QUALITY ASSURANCE AWARDS DINNER: The 2014 Health Quality Awards dinner will honor "leaders and innovators who drive health care improvement" at 6:30 p.m.
CHINA'S HEALTH CARE SECTOR, DRUG SAFETY, AND U.S.-CHINA TRADE IN MEDICAL PRODUCTS: The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission is holding a hearing from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Russell with representatives from various organizations and agencies including the Food and Drug Administration, the Pew Charitable Trusts, PhRMA and the Council on Foreign Relations.
EXAMINING OBAMACARE'S PROBLEM-FILLED STATE EXCHANGES: California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota and Oregon are on the chopping block at a joint subcommittee hearing held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee at 10:00 a.m.
HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE SUBCOMMITTEE ON HEALTH HEARING: A review of Pennsylvania Republican Tim Murphy's Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act at 10:30 a.m. in Rayburn.
MEDPAC APRIL MEETING: The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission will meet Thursday and Friday, April 3-4, to discuss items that will lead to its June report to Congress. Thursday's schedule begins at 9:30 a.m. with sessions on primary care and quality of care.
HOUSE VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE MARKUP: A 9 a.m. gathering of the Health Subcommittee to address pending calendar business.
MEDPAC APRIL MEETING: The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission will meet Thursday and Friday, April 3-4, to discuss items that will lead to its June report to Congress. Friday's schedule begins at 8:30 a.m. with sessions on medication adherence and beneficiary choice.