Strong Showing for Obama Health Law as Nearly 9M Sign Up - NBC 10 Philadelphia
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

Strong Showing for Obama Health Law as Nearly 9M Sign Up

The latest enrollment numbers come a day after President Donald Trump proclaimed that the GOP tax bill "essentially repealed Obamacare"

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    Strong Showing for Obama Health Law as Nearly 9M Sign Up
    AP
    In this May 18, 2017, file photo, the Healthcare.gov website is seen on a laptop computer, in Washington.

    In a remarkably strong show of consumer demand, nearly 9 million people signed up for "Obamacare" next year, as government numbers out Thursday proved predictions of its collapse wrong yet again.

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said more than 8.8 million people have signed up in the 39 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website.

    That compares to 9.2 million last year in the same states — or 96 percent of the previous total.

    The level exceeds what experts thought was possible after another year of political battles over the Affordable Care Act, not to mention market problems like rising premiums and insurer exits. On top of that, the Trump administration cut enrollment season in half, slashed the ad budget, terminated major payments to insurers, and scaled back grants for consumer counselors.

    'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Omarosa, Giuliani Causing Problems for Trump

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Omarosa, Giuliani Causing Problems for Trump

    Seth Meyers takes a closer look at President Donald Trump's staffing decisions coming back to haunt him as his lawyers fumble their response to the Russia probe and his White House feuds with Omarosa Manigault Newman.

    (Published 4 hours ago)

    "This level of enrollment is truly remarkable, especially given the headwinds faced by the program," said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

    President Donald Trump insistently predicted "Obamacare" would implode as he pursued unsuccessful efforts to repeal it in Congress. This week he incorrectly declared the GOP tax bill had essentially repealed it.

    Despite all that, more than 1 million new customers signed up last week, ahead of a Dec. 15 deadline for HealthCare.gov. That's a sign of solid interest in the program, which offers subsidized private health insurance to people who don't have access to job-based coverage.

    It's possible that final HealthCare.gov numbers could end up somewhat higher than reported Thursday, partly because late sign-ups in the Midwest and the West have yet to be added in.

    The nationwide enrollment total won't be known for weeks, since some states running their own health insurance markets — or exchanges — continue signing up customers through January.

    Total national enrollment could wind up near last year's final number of 12.2 million.

    How A New Chinese Policy is Causing a Recycling Nightmare in the US

    [NATL] How A New Chinese Policy is Causing a Recycling Nightmare in the US

    China has implemented a new recycling policy called National Sword, halting all imports of recycled materials. The U.S. was sending about 40 percent of its recycled goods to china before the policy's implementation which means there is a lot of recycled material with nowhere to go. See how the policy is affecting local recycling centers.

    (Published Monday, Aug. 13, 2018)

    "We know anecdotally that many state exchanges are running ahead of last year, (and) we could actually make up the national enrollment deficit with higher state-run exchange enrollment," said Chris Sloan of the consulting firm Avalere Health.

    Among the HealthCare.gov states, Florida led in enrollments, with 1.7 million people so far. Texas was next, with 1.1 million. Sign-ups for those states could rise, since a deadline extension is available for people in hurricane-affected areas.

    In Austin, Texas, a nonprofit group that helps low-income working people surpassed its enrollments for last year, and then some. Foundation Communities signed up 5,323 people this year, or about 20 percent more than last year.

    Health insurance program director Elizabeth Colvin credited squads of volunteers who helped steer consumers through a sign-up process that includes having to estimate their income for next year and other challenges.

    "The number that came out today proves that Obamacare is working," said Colvin.

    Lori Lodes, a former Obama administration official who once helped direct the enrollment campaign, said it's likely that last week saw the biggest number of sign-ups in the program's history.

    'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Trump’s Week of Corruption Scandals

    [NATL] 'Late Night’: A Closer Look at Trump’s Week of Corruption Scandals

    Seth Meyers takes a closer look at the truly unprecedented level of corruption swirling around the president of the United States.

    (Published Friday, Aug. 10, 2018)

    That's certain to lead to more criticism of the Trump administration for shortening open enrollment and other actions that Democrats call "sabotage."

    "The American people surged to defend this historic law from the cruelty of Trumpcare, and they enrolled at a record pace in quality, affordable health coverage on HealthCare.gov," said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.

    However, the administration also took other less noticed steps to facilitate enrollment, such as creating an easier path for insurers and brokers to sign up customers.

    The strong numbers for HealthCare.gov came a day after Trump proclaimed that the GOP tax bill "essentially repealed Obamacare."

    But the tax overhaul only repealed the health law's fines on people who don't carry health insurance, starting in 2019. Other major elements of former President Barack Obama's law remain in place, including its Medicaid expansion tailored to low-income adults, protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions, subsidies to help consumers pay their premiums, and requirements that insurers cover "essential" health benefits.

    First word of the enrollment numbers came via Twitter from Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

    Gates Testifies He Committed Crimes With Manafort

    [NATL] Rick Gates Testifies He Committed Crimes With Paul Manafort

    The former deputy of Paul Manafort admitted to a slew of his own crimes in his second appearance at his former mentor's trial. Rick Gates, another former Trump campaign official, admitted to hiding and embezzling from Manafort's funds as well as helping Manafort lie on his loan applications. 

    (Published Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018)

    She struck an upbeat tone:

    "We take pride in providing great customer service," she wrote, congratulating her agency on "the smoothest experience for consumers to date."

    In an interview Thursday with The Associated Press, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, indicated he's skeptical at best about revisiting botched efforts to dismantle the health care law.

    Bipartisan legislation to shore up insurance markets is pending before the Senate, but its fate is also uncertain.