News

Obamacare enrollment tops 7M mark

Obamacare enrollment tops 7M mark

HEALTHCARE HURDLES:More than 6 million people had signed up for private health coverage through the new Obamacare insurance markets by last week, surpassing a target set after a disastrous October rollout called the enrollment process into question. With daily volumes continuing to surge, analysts believe the final tally could approach or even exceed an original goal of 7 million. Photo: Associated Press

By Jeff Mason and David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama’s national healthcare program was on track to reach its goal of covering 7 million Americans, administration officials said on Tuesday, a victory for the White House after a months-long, glitch-filled rollout.

Obama is scheduled to make a statement about the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, at 4:15 p.m. EDT in the White House.

Obama’s remarks could be the start of a victory lap for his administration, which suffered from the botched unveiling of the program’s primary website, HealthCare.gov, and wavering support from Americans years after the healthcare law passed over Republican objections.

Officials did not provide exact updated figures, but the uptick in enrollment was in line with what experts predicted and it represented what the White House has called a comeback story that could boost Democrats in the November congressional elections.

Monday’s deadline for initial enrollment in the program came after a surge in registrations despite the return of technical problems, including a longer-than-expected maintenance session, although nothing as serious as the issues that beset the website’s launch in October.

The site on Tuesday announced that open enrollment for Obamacare had closed, but people whose applications were thwarted by technical problems would be given a chance to finish their registration.

By last week, more than 6 million people had signed up for private health coverage through the new Obamacare insurance markets, surpassing a target set after the disastrous rollout called the enrollment process into question.

Despite the figures, some questions about those who had signed up lingered.

“We still have a lot to learn about what underlies those numbers in terms of who signed up and how many were newly insured people versus switching from other coverage,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“We have more to see … about how many of them actually completed enrollment and how much coverage expansion was accomplished.”

The healthcare law, one of Obama’s key promises as a presidential candidate in 2008, was intended to expand access to healthcare coverage for millions of uninsured Americans, so having enrollment figures that reflect newly insured people is critical to the program’s success.

Obama administration officials said on Tuesday the late surge in enrollment put the program “on track” to reach 7 million registrants, which was its original goal.

“We admittedly had just a terrible start because the website wasn’t working, and despite losing effectively two months, we are going to be reasonably close to that original projection,” Obama said in an interview aired on Monday on “The CBS Evening News.”

Joanne Peters, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that in addition to record traffic on the website, The Medicare & Medicaid phone center handled a record number of calls.

Democrats and Republicans are locked in an election-year battle with Republicans over the future of Obamacare. House Speaker John Boehner on Monday pledged once again to repeal the program.

(Additional reporting by Bill Trott, editing by G Crosse)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment, Sports

Ronda Rousey biopic in the works

rrousey

Paramount executives have picked up the rights to the 28-year-old's autobiography.

in Sports

Daily fantasy sports land in gambling industry crosshairs

yahoofantasy

Each year millions of Americans draft virtual sports teams online and enter real-money competitions that last only a few hours.

in Sports

Judge: St. Louis residents don’t need vote on stadium funds

In this Sept. 26, 2013 file photo, fans watch during the third quarter of an NFL football game between the St. Louis Rams and the San Francisco 49ers at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. Pro football may have a firm foothold as America’s game, but in baseball-mad St. Louis the NFL is decidedly second fiddle. The St. Louis Cardinals can anticipate a red army at Busch Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series. Eight blocks away at the antiseptic Edward Jones Dome, the Monday Night Football matchup between the struggling St. Louis Rams and the Seattle Seahawks will likely feature a backdrop of thousands of empty seats.

The St. Louis Rams play in the Edward Jones Dome, which is outdated by NFL standards. The team is weighing a move to Los Angeles

in Entertainment

Ben Stiller back as dimwitted male model in ‘Zoolander 2′ trailer

13-overlay1

The sequel to the 2001 comedy is still several months away but with one-liners like these, we can't wait.

in Entertainment

Jon Stewart prepares to sign off

15-overlay2

After 15 years, the comedian will bid farewell as he hosts his final "Daily Show."

Bellingham Traffic