Obama Health Overhaul
Carolyn Kaster/APPresident Barack Obama waves to supporters as he leaves the White House Rose Garden on Tuesday.
By Jeff Mason
and Mark Felsenthal


WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama's national health care program signed up more than 7 million people by the end of March, the president said Tuesday, notching a rare victory after a months-long, glitch-filled rollout of the law.

Appearing in the White House Rose Garden, the president said 7.1 million people had signed up for coverage under the law, known as Obamacare, and called for Republicans to end their bid to repeal it. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner repeated his pledge to repeal the law on Monday.

"This law is doing what it's supposed to do. It's working," Obama said, with Vice President Joe Biden standing at his side. "The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay."

His remarks represented a victory lap for the administration, which suffered from the botched unveiling of the program's primary website, HealthCare.gov, and wavering support from Americans some three years after the U.S. Congress passed the health care law over Republican objections.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius,
who has taken the brunt of the criticism for the shaky rollout, sat beaming in the front row during the Rose Garden ceremony. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough gave her a hug before Obama's remarks.

Experts had predicted a last-minute surge in enrollment. The figure could give a boost to Democrats, who have suffered from the criticism of the law, ahead of November congressional elections.

Obama's party is seeking to hold on to its control of the U.S. Senate and minimize losses in the Republican-controlled House, but the problems with Obamacare have complicated congressional races and handed Republicans a key talking point for skeptical constituents.

Republicans on Tuesday were quick to highlight outstanding questions including how many of the enrollees had seen their plans canceled because of the new law; how many people saw their premiums go down, and how many people who selected plans actually completed the process and paid their premiums.

"We don't know of course, exactly what they have signed up for, we don't know how many have paid," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters on Capitol Hill, referring to the enrollees in the program.

"What we do know is that all across the country our constituents are having an unpleasant interaction with Obamacare. Whether they can sign up for a policy or not, they are discovering, of course, higher premiums, a higher deductible."

Strong Surge

White House officials dismissed the Republicans' criticism. Speaking to reporters ahead of Obama's announcement, one official noted that Democrats seeking to get voters from the coalition that elected Obama to support them wouldn't be able to do so without embracing the law.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi told reporters her members were not running away from the issue.

"Our members are out there on the offensive on this issue because of what we did, and we're proud of it, and we're proud of what it means in the lives of Americans," Pelosi said after a meeting with Obama.

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 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.

Who Signed Up?

Industry analysts echoed Republicans' calls for more information about those who had signed up.

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

Having a robust percentage of healthy young people to offset older enrollees is also important. White House spokesman Jay Carney said such details were yet available, but he said the demographic mix would be sufficient to ensure that the health market places that form the cornerstone of the law would function smoothly.

-Additional reporting by David Morgan, Thomas Ferraro and Larry Downing.


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23 Comments

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schhdream

don't you lost freedom of choice

April 09 2014 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dopey.obamite

Everyone should take pelosi's advice, and just quit their jobs and pursue self interests...maybe learn to play a musical instrument or something like that, knowing that you have health insurance.

How do you suppose that would work out?

April 02 2014 at 11:03 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
teapotparty11

BIG DEAL 7 MILLION FREELOADERS SIGNED UP FOR HEALTHCARE. ENJOY IT WHILE YOU CAN LIBERALS. WHEN WE SWEEP TO POWER IN 2014 AND TAKE THE WHITE HOUSE IN 2016 YOUR FREE HEALTH CARE IS GONNA GO BYE BYE ALONG WITH ALL THIS GARBAGE TALK ABOUT RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE. WE WILL REPEAL OBAMA CARE AND DO AWAY WITH THE MINIMUM WAGE!!!

April 02 2014 at 7:08 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to teapotparty11's comment
dopey.obamite

Free? Who in the hell thinks it's free? This ever changing law doesn't reduce health care costs. It just shifts who is paying for it.

April 02 2014 at 9:23 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dopey.obamite

drone[ drohn ]

noun

1. the male of the honeybee and other bees, stingless and making no honey.

2.

a. an unmanned aircraft or ship that can navigate autonomously, without human control or beyond line of sight: the GPS of a U.S. spy drone.

b. (loosely) any unmanned aircraft or ship that is guided remotely: a radio-controlled drone.

3. a person who lives on the labor of others; parasitic loafer.

Hello number 3!

April 02 2014 at 11:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to dopey.obamite's comment
dopey.obamite

LMAO

April 02 2014 at 11:06 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down
chris1011

Millions of people are enrolling in health insurance thru private insurance websites. No need to go to the government insurance exchanges. This is well known to informed individuals (but Faux News won't tell you).
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/02/business/newly-insured-but-not-counted-by-the-insurance-exchanges.html?ref=business&_r=2

April 02 2014 at 5:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
croone22

It may cost Billions to repeal ACA,but it will cost trillions to keep it. It just cost me $700 in upfront co-pays on ambulette services that use to be fully covered. Obamacare is an incompetently designed program all designed to win elections not improve medical care which it never will.

April 02 2014 at 5:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to croone22's comment
chris1011

What is ambulette service? I doubt sincerely that you are enrolled in any of the private exchange insurers. I'm betting you are retired and on Medicare.

April 02 2014 at 5:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to chris1011's comment
dopey.obamite

ambulette[ am-byuh-let ]

noun

1. a specially equipped motor vehicle for transporting convalescing or handicapped people.

April 02 2014 at 10:12 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down
dopey.obamite

dumb-ass[ duhm-as ]

noun [Slang: Vulgar.]

1. a thoroughly stupid person; blockhead.

2. a person who bllindly supports obama

3. chris1011

April 02 2014 at 10:56 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down
Carol Xu

The TRUE story is how many will actually make the first payment. THAT will give you the real number. Anyone can sign up in order to say they 'did' it, but lets see what the numbers say when the first payment is actually due.

Only a hyper-partisan fool would defend this mess, which is why nearly all Democrats running this year are attacking it.

Health insurance should be like car insurance and should kick in when there are major problems. Can you imagine what an oil change would cost if it was covered under your auto insurance? You don't bill your car insurance for oil changes or little scratches in your car's paint job.

Also - unlike the gov website, auto insurance sites actually work! I can go get auto insurance quote for $25/month from 4AutoInsuranceQuote. With healthcare dot gov, it takes me hours to get an un-affordable BS rate. Who can afford $600/month insurance?

All in the plan. Problems at the end so more can say they tried but couldn't so now anyone can get an extension, further helping enrollment numbers. Add this to the 38 changes made to the law since passage, the joke continues. But, it's the law of the land and cannot be changed!

April 02 2014 at 4:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Carol Xu's comment
chris1011

You don't need to go to the government website to buy health insurance. You can certainly go to your private insurance company and buy their existing plans. Any insurance broker can sell you health insurance from a private insurance company. No need for the government website if you are opposed to it. We buy directly from Blue Cross for our company employees and for our own business owner needs.

April 02 2014 at 4:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to chris1011's comment
dopey.obamite

Wasn't the deadline Dec. 31?

April 02 2014 at 4:25 PM Report abuse -5 rate up rate down Reply
chris1011

Disastrous roll out filled with low numbers, numerous extensions, computer glitches, confused people and naysayers. Opponents were against it. It was signed into law by the President. That was Medicare Part D.
The big difference between Part D and ACA is that the Democrats worked with the GOP to fix the problems after it was signed into law by GWB and now it's a success. Instead of spending millions in taxpayers money to defund and repeal ACA the GOP should have worked with the Dems to fix the problems...but they didn't because they didn't care, still don't care and will be on the wrong side of history again.

April 02 2014 at 2:43 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
chris1011

I've been trying to get on Sarah Palin's death panel so I could cut off her benefits, but I've yet to find where they are meeting. Does anyone know where her death panel can be found? I know it exists because both she and Senator Grassley said the were part of the law and I'm sure they wouldn't lie.

April 02 2014 at 1:56 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris1011's comment
dopey.obamite

Big Government: We almost never agree with President Obama's favorite economist Paul Krugman, but he recently spoke the truth about where Obama's policies are taking the country. It should scare anyone with a pulse.

Krugman, after speaking at the Sixth & I Historic Synagogue in Washington, D.C., was asked about the debt crisis. After arguing it's no big deal in the near term, Krugman admitted that "Eventually we do have a problem. The population is getting older, health care costs are rising ... . Something is going to have to give."

What's that something? According to Krugman, it's middle-class pocketbooks.

"We won't be able to pay for the kind of society we want without some increases in taxes," he said, "and surely in the end it will require some middle-class taxes as well, maybe a value added tax."

That's not all. We're also "going to have to ... really make decisions about health care, (and) not pay for health care that has no demonstrated medical benefits."

In case anyone failed to get what he was talking about, Krugman made it clear, saying the snarky version is:

"Death panels and sales taxes is how we do this."

April 02 2014 at 4:25 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to dopey.obamite's comment
dopey.obamite

Fed government will be doing a cost/benefit analysis on our sick and elderly. You call it what you want.

April 02 2014 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
dopey.obamite

That's right chris...justt rate it down.

April 02 2014 at 4:56 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down
chris1011

Now that the 7-million enrollment goal has been reached, the Republican talking-points have shifted to minor points:

1. How many of these are newly insured?

According to studies of by the Rand corporation and the LA Times, AT LEAST 9.5 million have health insurance for the first time.

http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-obamacare-unin...
http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rand-study-o...

That number is several days old, before the surge in last minute enrollments. Other analysis shows that as many 12 million may be newly-insurved. This is supported by the fact that state number show a high percentage of those enrolling were uninsured before Obamacare. For example, in Kentucky, 75% of all enrollments were previously uninsured.

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101523615

2. But what percentage of the signups have actually paid?

Currently, 12 states provide that information. The Average for those states is 85% paid, including four states that show 100% paid. There's no reason to expect that the remaining 38 states would be any different.

http://acasignups.net/14/03/21/paidunpaid-brouhaha...

3. But what about all those cancelled policies? All those Obamacare numbers are just people reinstating their cancelled policies.

The most widely quoted figure for cancelled policies is 4.8 million.

However, Obama extend those policies for another 2 years. According to the CBO and a congressional study, 1.5 million had their polices extended.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/05/obama-ext...
http://acasignups.net/14/03/25/one-more-post-re-om...

That leaves 3.3 million cancellations.

But those 3.3 million cancellations wouldn't just be reinstated through the exchanges. They are just as likely to be reinstated through through the full range of Obamacare options, so you can't just apply them to the exchange numbers. You have to use number for Obamacare enrollments through private plans, the exchanges, medicaid expansion, etc.

Total Insured through all Obamacare options: 17.2 million
Subtract Canellation: 3.3 million

Total non-cancelled enrollments: 13.9 million

http://acasignups.net/14/03/24/polite-response-som...

http://acasignups.net/graph

4. Without young people Obamacare will go into a Death Spiral. What percentage of young people have enrolled?

The Democrats have estimated that about 40% of the signups needed to be young people to make Obamacare sustainable.

EHealth, an online insurance broker reported that 39 percent of signups between October and December young adults.

However, the percentage of young people signing up has surged in the last few months. EHealth is now reporting that since January, 45% of its enrollments have been young adults.

These numbers don't include that last week of enrollment where the percentage was expected to be much higher.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/20...

April 02 2014 at 1:37 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to chris1011's comment
dopey.obamite

Wait until the employer mandate kicks in.

April 02 2014 at 4:15 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply