February 20 2014

Biden on ObamaCare: Hey, We Tried

Patrice J. Lee

March 31 is the deadline for all Americans to secure healthcare coverage thanks to the mandate set by the unAffordable Care Act. With just six weeks remaining the question is will the federal healthcare exchange and state exchanges meet their enrollment targets?

Most indicators read negatively, except California.

As we’ve reported, the pace of enrollments in the federal and state ObamaCare healthcare exchanges have picked up following the botched rollout of healthcare.gov and broken state websites. In total, nearly 3.3 million Americans had enrolled through the end of January, with about one million people enrolling in January. 3.3 million enrollments is just three-quarters of what the Administration expected by this point and still far behind the seven million enrollment target.

The White House is now publicly admitting its failure. In comments yesterday Vice President Joe Biden noted that “we may not get to 7 million, but if we get to 5 or 6 million that’s a hell of a start.”

Politico reports more on Biden’s comments:

Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that it would be a good start for the federal health care law if 5 million to 6 million people sign up by the end of March, an acknowledgement that enrollments might fall significantly short of the Obama administration’s unofficial goal of 7 million.

Biden, who was attending a private fundraiser in Minneapolis, made a brief unannounced stop at a coffee shop and visited with a handful of women who have signed up for coverage. Open enrollment under the federal law ends on March 31, after which people without insurance are subject to federal tax penalties.

Biden acknowledged the rocky rollout of the administration’s Affordable Care Act and the difficulty people have had in signing up. Minnesota has been among the numerous states, along with the federal Healthcare.gov website, to experience rampant technical problems that hampered enrollment.

The Veep is scheduled to hit television programs The View and Late Night to drum up support for ObamaCare, especially among women. Perhaps he may want to be a bit more cheerful if he expects Americans to buy into what is a bad deal for them.

On another note, California boasts it has exceeded its open-enrollment goals. Through last Friday, Covered California, the state’s healthcare exchange, had enrolled 828,638 people in private health plans and another 877,000 Californians were determined to be likely eligible for coverage under Medi-Cal, the state's health program for the poor.

However, young people and Latinos –two crucial targeted populations– still lag in enrolling. Young people make up only 26 percent of enrollments while 20 percent of applicants identified themselves as Latino.

The open-enrollment deadline for ObamaCare is fast coming to a close. While the Administration and states have successfully brought millions of Americans into this new healthcare insurance system, millions more have lost their coverage.

There’s a noticeable absence of data on whether new enrollments were previously covered or uninsured. If they were covered, it suggests that ObamaCare just shifted Americans from one plan to another, whether because their plans were cancelled or because they could now get taxpayer dollars to subsidize their healthcare costs.

Even more significant, coverage doesn’t guarantee care. Just ask mechanic Chris Dunn, who is in so much pain that he can barely walk, but is unable to find a doctor who will take his California ObamaCare plan to treat his back.

Whatever the case, April 1 will hold surprises as many Americans will face a tax penalty for not demonstrating healthcare coverage ($95 per adult and $47.15 per child or 1 percent of their total household income, whichever is greater). When that tax bill comes due for what will likely be millions of Americans, the Administration will have a lot of explaining to do.

 

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus