Obamacare Clears 7 Million Sign-Ups

President Obama took a victory lap as enrollment cleared a major milestone.

This October 21, 2013 photo shows the US government internet health insurance exchange Healthcare.gov. US President Barack Obama on Monday defended his problem-plagued health reform plan, declaring at a White House event that, despite numerous glitches, the program is already helping many uninsured Americans. 'Let me remind everybody that the Affordable Care Act is not just a website,' Obama said, after the troubled online rollout of the plan. 'It's much more...You may not know it, but you're already benefiting from these provisions in the law.'AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER 
National Journal
Sam Baker
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Sam Baker
April 1, 2014, 10:16 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama took a vic­tory lap Tues­day after an­noun­cing that more than 7 mil­lion people have signed up for health care cov­er­age through the Af­ford­able Care Act.

Roughly 7.1 mil­lion se­lec­ted a plan be­fore the en­roll­ment dead­line, Obama said, fueled by a last-minute surge on Monday. Obama used the an­nounce­ment to cri­ti­cize the law’s Re­pub­lic­an crit­ics, in­clud­ing gov­ernors who have re­jec­ted its Medi­caid ex­pan­sion and mem­bers of Con­gress cam­paign­ing on prom­ises to re­peal it.

“The de­bate over re­peal­ing this law is over. The Af­ford­able Care Act is here to stay,” Obama said in a Rose Garden ad­dress.

The health care law re­mains polit­ic­ally un­pop­u­lar, with pub­lic opin­ion fall­ing along par­tis­an lines, and Demo­crats up for reelec­tion this year have made a point to dis­tance them­selves from Obama­care.

Nev­er­the­less, Obama scol­ded Re­pub­lic­ans for their op­pos­i­tion on Tues­day.

“Why are folks work­ing so hard for people not to have health in­sur­ance?” he said. “Why are they so mad about the idea of folks hav­ing health in­sur­ance?

Clear­ing 7 mil­lion sign-ups is a big polit­ic­al vic­tory for the White House — and the total will likely con­tin­ue to grow be­fore of­fi­cial en­roll­ment num­bers are re­leased later this month.

The 7 mil­lion fig­ure does not in­clude people who en­rolled Monday through state-based ex­changes, White House press sec­ret­ary Jay Car­ney said dur­ing his brief­ing Tues­day, and people who were “in line” for the fed­er­al ex­change by mid­night will be al­lowed to com­plete the en­roll­ment pro­cess.

People can also en­roll throughout the year if they be­come eli­gible by way of a change in cir­cum­stances, such as leav­ing a job.

“This law is do­ing what it’s sup­posed to do. It’s work­ing,” Obama said.

Be­fore the dis­astrous Health­Care.gov launch, the Con­gres­sion­al Budget Of­fice es­tim­ated that the ex­changes would cov­er 7 mil­lion people this year. CBO down­graded that to 6 mil­lion to ac­count for the web­site’s troubles. And throughout, Re­pub­lic­ans pre­dicted that en­roll­ment would fall short of either ex­pect­a­tion.

The num­ber of people who ac­tu­ally gained cov­er­age through Obama­care’s ex­changes will not be as high as the 7.1 mil­lion total Obama an­nounced Tues­day. That fig­ure refers to the num­ber of people who have se­lec­ted a plan, in­clud­ing those who didn’t go on to pay their first premi­um — the last step to ac­tu­ally get­ting covered.

It’s also not clear how many en­rollees were pre­vi­ously un­in­sured — a key meas­ure of the law’s suc­cess in re­du­cing the num­ber of un­in­sured Amer­ic­ans.

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After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

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