POLITICS: PennAve

President says Obamacare enrollment has hit 8 million

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health Care,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Health Care Exchanges

President Obama announced Thursday that 8 million consumers had signed up in Obamacare's federal and state insurance exchanges during the open enrollment period.

“The Affordable Care Act is covering more people at less cost than a few months ago,” said Obama during a press briefing at the White House.

“As more data comes in we now know that the number of Americans who signed up for private insurance in the marketplaces has grown to 8 million people,” he added.

Obama said that 35 percent of those who enrolled in federal exchanges were under the age of 35, short of the administration initial 40 percent target, though. Young, healthy consumers are needed to keep premiums down and balance older, sicker consumers.

The president said that according to independent experts “millions of Americans who were uninsured have gained coverage” and predicted many more to come.

The administration had previously touted 7.5 million consumers in Obamacare exchanges, which surpassed their 7 million target.

But those figures, coming after numerous delays and a two-week extension to allow consumers to finish their applications, invited criticism from opponents of the health law.

Critics said that the figures were incomplete and did not reveal how many consumers had actually paid their first month’s premiums — necessary for coverage to kick in. Additionally, many questioned how many of the sign-ups had been previously uninsured.

Obama’s broken promise that consumers could keep their current health plans despite new Obamacare regulations has led to concerns that millions of Americans could see their coverage dropped.

Obama though said that the open enrollment period had been a success, touting the enrollment figures, and he urged Republicans to abandon efforts to repeal the law.

“This thing is working,” said Obama.

He acknowledged that ”this law won't solve all the problems in our health care system.”

“There is more work to do,” he said, but argued that GOP efforts to undo Obamacare would increase the deficit, raise premiums for consumers and take away insurance from millions.

“It’s strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place its always been,” said Obama, who questioned why GOP leaders could not admit that the law was “working.”

The October rollout of Obamacare's insurance exchanges was hit by numerous tech troubles, leaving consumers unable to sign up on the healthcare.gov website. The initial missteps led many to question if the administration could ever reach their 7-million target.

But enrollment rose following a tech surge to repair the website, as well as numerous delays to key provisions of the law that included allowing consumers to retain current insurance plans and providing additional time to sign up.

The administration defended its efforts, saying that the goal was always to get as many consumers covered as possible. But Republicans said the delays were to protect Democrats from the political fallout of an unpopular law ahead of November’s midterms.

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