Enrollment Hits 3.3 Million
TODAY IN ONE PARAGRAPH: Obamacare enrollment is making up the ground it lost to HealthCare.gov. HHS said yesterday that 3.3 million people have selected a plan through the law's insurance exchanges, meaning enrollment is only about a month behind pre-HealthCare.gov estimates, and is likely on track to hit the new target of 6 million enrollees this year. On a related note, Gallup said yesterday that the uninsurance rate has fallen by 1 percentage point since the end of last year. The polling organization said it's not clear whether the decline is a result of Obamacare, and it's a relatively minor drop, but still a potentially encouraging sign for the law's supporters.
Top Health Care News
ENROLLMENT: Over 1.1 million signed up for an insurance plan on the exchanges in January, according to new HHS enrollment numbers. (Michael D. Shear and Reed Abelson, New York Times)
GALLUP: The latest poll found 16 percent of U.S. adults report being without insurance, the lowest rate since 2009.
Is Obamacare the reason? We don't really know yet. (Sarah Kliff, Washington Post)
More on Enrollment Numbers
FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT THE LATEST NUMBERS: Enrollment is on track; January saw slight drop-off, as expected; number of young people is steady; we don't know how many have paid premiums; we don't know how many were uninsured. (Sam Baker, National Journal)
OBAMACARE BEATS MONTHLY ENROLLMENT TARGET FOR FIRST TIME: In September, CMs projected that 1,059,900 would sign up for private coverage on the exchanges in January. Now 1,146,100 did. Total cumulative enrollment is still behind by about one million, due in large part to meager sign-ups during the first couple months. (Sarah Kliff, Washington Post)
ENROLLMENT PROGRESS VARIES BY STATE: "The insurance risk pool isn't a national one. That means that to fully succeed, the health care law needs to attract a sufficient number of enrollees in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia." (Philip Klein, Washington Examiner)
THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS IN THE OBAMACARE REPORT: We still don't know how many people who signed up paid premiums, which insurance plans people chose, or know how many people were previously uninsured. (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica)
POORER COUNTIES HAVE LIMITED CHOICE, HIGHER PREMIUMS ON THE EXCHANGES: "Consumers in 515 counties, spread across 15 states, have only one insurer selling coverage through the online marketplaces, the Journal found. In more than 80% of those counties, the sole insurer is a local Blue Cross & Blue Shield plan. Residents of wealthier, more populated counties in the U.S. receive lower-priced choices than those living in counties with a single insurer." (Timothy W. Martin and Christopher Weaver, Wall Street Journal)
OBAMACARE'S MARKET SHARE MYSTERY: WILL THE HEALTH LAW SHAKE UP THE INSURANCE LEADER BOARD? In some states with highly concentrated insurance markets, the health law hasn't done much to increase competition. But it's too early to tell who will be the long-lasting players. (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica)
ARKANSAS COULD BE FIRST TO EXPAND MEDICAID, THEN TAKE IT AWAY: Nearly 100,000 residents have enrolled in the state 'private option' plan since the beginning of the year, and they could be in trouble if the legislature doesn't renew funding for the program. (Dan Diamond, California Healthline)
AMENDMENTS TO ARKANSAS 'PRIVATE OPTION' WOULD DETER ENROLLMENT: "[Rep. Nate Bell, one of the sponsors of the changes] was blunt about his ultimate objective: 'I didn't vote for this program originally, I don't like it, I want it to go away. I would love to see the program fail. I do want a controlled failure.' But he believes that there simply isn't a clear end game to a defund strategy during this year's fiscal session. His amendments amount to an attempt to squeeze out what he can given the tricky terrain for private option opponents."
The amended appropriation will come before Joint Budget today and may be put to a vote on the House floor as soon as Friday. (David Ramsey, Arkansas Times)
FLORIDA TO MANAGE CARE FOR FOSTER CHILDREN: Florida will create a special Medicaid plan beginning in May to cover the estimated 31,600 Florida children in the welfare system. (Marissa Evans, Kaiser Health News/Miami Herald)
LAWMAKERS GRILL MASSACHUSETTS HEALTH OFFICIAL ABOUT FAULTY WEBSITE: "Facing a swell of anger from legislators, Governor Deval Patrick's new point person in charge of fixing the state's broken health insurance website pledged a Herculean effort, but did not offer an exact timeline or a specific plan for when and how the website will be repaired." (Joshua Miller, Boston Globe)
NEW YORK DIALYSIS PLAN FACES SCRUTINY: "The New York State Public Health and Health Planning Council is set to vote Thursday on a deal to turn over dialysis at four of New York City's public hospitals to a for-profit franchise called Big Apple Dialysis despite government data showing the company's centers did not perform as well as the hospitals themselves." (Nina Bernstein, New York Times)
ANALYSIS: PROPOSED POLICY COULD AFFECT 7.4 BENEFICIARIES: "A Medicare proposed rule change limiting the number of prescription drug plans (PDPs) that insurers may offer in the Part D market could require 39 percent of all enhanced plans to be eliminated in 2016." (Matthew Eyles, Avalere Health)
STUDY: STROKE RISK TIED TO COLD, HUMIDITY, WEATHER SWINGS: "Cold weather, high humidity and big daily temperature swings seem to land more people in the hospital with strokes. As it got warmer, risk fell - 3 percent for every 5 degrees." (Marilynn Marchione, Associated Press)
DENTAL GROUP ADVISES EARLIER USE OF FLUORIDE TOOTHPASTE: "Parents should use a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste to brush baby teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt, instead of waiting until children are older, according to new guidelines by the American Dental Association. That advice overturns the A.D.A.'s decades-old recommendation to start using a pea-size amount at 24 months." (Catherine Saint Louis, New York Times)
NATIONAL QUALITY FORUM ANNUAL CONFERENCE: "Making Sense of Quality Data for Patients, Providers, and Payers," at 8:30 a.m.