Obamacare Clears 7 Million Sign-Ups
7.1 MILLION, TO BE PRECISE: More than 7.1 million people have picked a plan through the Affordable Care Act's exchanges, President Obama announced yesterday. The numbers are clearly political vindication for the White House, and they're also signs of crazy-strong March enrollment. To hit 7 million by the enrollment deadline, roughly 2.8 million people must have signed up in March alone -- twice as many as the administration planned for even when it mapped out a plan to end up with 7 million total enrollees. The usual caveats about premium payments and the number of uninsured still apply, and they are still important caveats, but it's pretty hard to deny that crossing the 7 million mark was a big political win for the administration.
Top Health Care News
OBAMA CLAIMS VICTORY IN PUSH FOR INSURANCE: "President Obama declared victory Tuesday in the government's aggressive push to enroll seven million people in private health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act, even as his senior aides braced for an escalated political battle over the law ahead of the fall's crucial midterm elections.
"The milestone may be more significant politically than for what it says about the law's potential impact on the American health system, which remains unclear. But officials said it was unlikely to have much of an impact on public perception of the law, and the announcement did little to deflect immediate criticism from its Republican opponents." (Michael D. Shear and Robert Pear, New York Times)
WHITE HOUSE MASKED FEARS OF OBAMACARE COLLAPSE: "In ways they've never discussed before, senior administration officials now admit they feared late last fall that the entire law might collapse under the weight of Democratic defections and aggressive Republican calls for repeal. The mathematics of veto-proof majorities always argued against repeal, but the nightmare of HealthCare.gov followed by the 'political lie of the year' on individual insurance policies filled senior Obama advisers with Affordable Care Act existential dread." (Major Garrett, National Journal)
BEHIND THE OBAMACARE SURPRISE: "The story of how the administration turned around a historic management failure surprised even many of the people involved, according to current and former administration officials, advocates, industry executives and supporters on the Hill.
And it had a lot to do with Bradley Cooper." (Edward-Isaac Dovere and Carrie Budoff Brown, Politico)
Enrollment, By the Numbers
OBAMACARE HITS 7 MILLION ENROLLMENTS FOLLOWING LAST-MINUTE SURGE: The White House announced that 7.1 million have enrolled in private insurance plans on the health law's exchanges, passing the Congressional Budget Office's original target. The number does not include state-exchange enrollments on the final day, off-exchange enrollment, or Medicaid sign-ups, and does not factor in the fact that some individuals have not yet paid premiums. (Amy Goldstein and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post)
ONTO THE SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD: A state-by-state breakdown of enrollment deadline extensions beyond March 31. (Health Pocket)
THE TOPLINE OBAMACARE ENROLLMENT NUMBER DOESN'T MATTER: It's the mix of enrollees, and even the White House knows that. (Jason MIllman, Washington Post)
ENROLLMENT CAVEATS WILL KEEP ACA COUNTING: "The ranks of incompletes make for a long list. Nobody knows how many people will actually follow up and finish enrolling." (Joanne Kenen, Politico)
SEVEN MILLION ENROLLEES A CHALLENGE FOR REPUBLICANS: "If Republicans had taken over the White House last year and pursued the repeal of Obamacare, they could have done so at a time when the law's beneficiaries were mostly theoretical. Now, however, Republicans will be facing the same problem Obama did. Only more so, because they've invested so much in the idea that nobody can lose coverage as a result of health care legislative changes. Even if the law remains broadly unpopular, Republicans will have have to deal with the fact that millions of Americans would have their coverage disrupted by repeal." (Philip Klein, Washington Examiner)
IT'S ALL OVER, OBAMACARE HATERS! WHY THEY'VE OFFICIALLY LOST THE BATTLE: "The universe of Obamacare 'success stories' is larger than the universe of Obamacare 'horror stories' and many of said horror stories fall apart or are revealed to be ambiguous upon mild scrutiny." (Brian Beutler, Salon)
OBAMA TELLS GOP: TIME TO GET OVER OBAMACARE: "The Affordable Care Act is here to stay," the president said in the White House Rose Garden Tuesday afternoon. (Dylan Scott, Talking Points Memo)
VULNERABLE DEMOCRATS STILL WARY OVER OBAMACARE: A prominent Democratic pollster says of the enrollment success: "It is helpful but it's not going to fundamentally change the playing field. The less we're talking about Obamacare, the better off we are. Since good things are now happening, we may be talking about it less and that's a good thing." (James Hohmann, Politico)
OBAMACARE ALLIES ARE ALREADY PLOTTING HOW TO MAKE 2015 ENROLLMENT BETTER: Health care advocacy group Families USA has 10 recommendations for boosting enrollment next year. (Jason Millman, Washington Post)
PEOPLE WHO ARE STILL UNINSURED MAY TURN TO COMMUNITY CLINICS: The government-funded community health centers provide primary care and family planning services at a lower cost for the nation's low-income. (Michelle Andrews, National Public Radio)
Medicare and Medicaid
RYAN BUDGET TARGETS ACA, MEDICAID, MEDICARE: Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan presented his budget proposal Tuesday, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act, eliminate Medicaid expansion and turn the program into block grants to the states, and eventually change Medicaid to a "premium support" program that would give seniors subsidies to buy private insurance. (Jonathan Weisman, New York Times)
THE MEDICAID COVERAGE GAP AND SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIODS: "Under the current rules, individuals whose change in income would qualify them for premium tax credits can get a special enrollment period – but only if they are already enrolled in a marketplace plan...Individuals who fall into the Medicaid gap can obtain an exemption from the individual mandate penalty. But these individuals have to apply for Medicaid and be found ineligible before they can obtain that exemption. If later the individual's income rises to more than 138% of poverty, he or she will lose their hardship exemption based on being ineligible for Medicaid; losing a hardship exemption then triggers a special enrollment period that will allow them to apply to the marketplace for premium tax credits." (JoAnn Volk, Center on Health Insurance Reforms, Georgetown University Health Policy Institute)
COVER OREGON HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE INFORMATION-TECHNOLOGY CHIEF RESIGNS: He was one of two the Oregon governor recommended step down after issuing a report about what happened to the state's failed online exchange. (Nick Budnick, The Oregonian)
HUNDREDS CRAM INTO VIRGINIA SENATE HEARING ON MEDICAID EXPANSION: "The Senate Finance Committee hearing did little to bring the two chambers any closer to resolving an impasse over whether to expand Medicaid under the federal Affordable Care Act. The stalemate threatens to shut down state government if it is not resolved by the start of the new fiscal year, July 1." (Laura Vozzella, Washington Post)
LEADERS OF TEACHING HOSPITALS HAVE CLOSE TIES TO DRUG COMPANIES, STUDY SHOWS: Nearly every large drug maker based in the United States had at least one academic medical center official on its board, raising questions about their independence. (Charles Ornstein, ProPublica)
WATCH: KIDS CONFUSE APPLE SLICES FOR FRENCH FRIES IN FAST FOOD ADS: A new study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that only 10 percent of kids identified Burger King's apple slices, packaged like french fries, correctly. (Alexandra Sifferlin, TIME)
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.