About 4 million people have now signed up for private insurance through Obamacare, the Health and Human Services Department said Tuesday evening.
The latest figures were released just in time for President Obama’s address to Organizing for Action — the successor to his campaign apparatus and part of the large network of Democratic advocacy groups now entering the home stretch of a massive enrollment drive.
The window to sign up for coverage closes at the end of next month, and crossing the 4 million mark is a key milestone. Enrollment has recovered much of the ground it lost in October and November, when technical problems plagued HealthCare.gov, and it now seems all but impossible that the law will collapse on its own, as its Republican critics predicted.
In light of the issues with HealthCare.gov, the Congressional Budget Office now expects roughly 6 million people to sign up for private coverage this year. HHS would need to end this month with just shy of 1.1 million sign-ups to be on track for that target; it’s not clear when in February it crossed the 4 million mark.
The enrollment figures come with additional caveats: They don’t reflect how many people have actually paid their first premium, activating their coverage. That number — which is likely around 20 to 30 percent lower than HHS’s figure — is the true measure of enrollment. HHS also hasn’t said how many enrollees were previously uninsured — another key metric in measuring real enrollment against CBO’s expectations.
Still, rising enrollment is rising enrollment, and every new milestone further solidifies the law’s long-term prospects. At this point, the White House is confident that even after adjusting for unpaid premiums and previously insured people, the law is looking strong enough to make it to 2015 and beyond, and become part of the fabric of the U.S. insurance market.
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As the Russia investigation heats up, "the role of Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime New York lawyer, will be significantly reduced. Mr. Trump liked Mr. Kasowitz’s blunt, aggressive style, but he was not a natural fit in the delicate, politically charged criminal investigation. The veteran Washington defense lawyer John Dowd will take the lead in representing Mr. Trump for the Russia inquiry."
President Trump's attorneys are "actively compiling a list of Mueller’s alleged potential conflicts of interest, which they say could serve as a way to stymie his work." They plan to argued that Mueller is going outside the scope of his investigation, in inquiring into Trump's finances. They're also playing small ball, highlighting "donations to Democrats by some of" Mueller's team, and "an allegation that Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Northern Virginia had a dispute over membership fees when Mueller resigned as a member in 2011." Trump is said to be incensed that Mueller may see his tax returns, and has been asking about his power to pardon his family members.
In addition to ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Robert Mueller's team is also "examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe. FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said. The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort."
Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team is "is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump’s businesses as well as those of his associates", including "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008."
"A Senate bill to gut Obamacare would increase the number of uninsured people by 32 million and double premiums on Obamacare's exchanges by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. The analysis is of a bill that passed Congress in 2015 that would repeal Obamacare's taxes and some of the mandates. Republicans intend to leave Obamacare in place for two years while a replacement is crafted and implemented."