“On Track” for 7 million Obamacare Enrollments – How close will the Obama administration be able to come to 7 million?
After a surge of interest on enrollment deadline day on Monday, a senior administration official told CNN’s Jim Acosta on Tuesday that Obamacare is now on track to hit that original White House target for enrollment on the federal and state health insurance exchanges.
President Obama plans a 4:15 p.m. ET White House event to talk about the big news for his signature legislative achievement.
Acosta was told that a "crush" of consumers shattered previous records of visitors to HealthCare.gov and calls to enrollment support centers, raising optimism.
There were more than 4.8 million visits to HealthCare.gov and 2 million calls to call centers Monday, an administration official said.
It’s an incredible turnaround for the exchanges after a disastrous rollout last October. In the first month of enrollment, just 106,000 signed up. There’s a good chance more than that signed up for insurance Monday.
We probably won’t know final Obamacare figures for some time. Anyone who experienced technical difficulty gets a bit more time on the federal site. And between the two hiccups reported for the HealthCare.gov site Monday, anyone who tried to sign in on the final day would have experienced some technical difficulty.
There is also the separate issue of which people who enrolled in a plan online actually paid for it and obtained insurance. That information will come, ultimately, from the private companies offering insurance. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in February that between 80% and 90% of people who selected a plan online had paid for it. It is not clear if that ratio has changed.
What would it mean to hit 7 million? You can look at that two ways: It would either be exceeding lowered expectations or meeting the original expectation.
That figure of 7 million was initially projected by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Nine million people were expected to enroll in Medicaid programs for low-wage earners as part of an expansion through Obamacare, but a little more than half the U.S. states decided not to expand their Medicaid programs to include families making 133% of the federal poverty level - $15,521 per year for an individual and $31,720 for a family of four - even though the federal government promised to pay for all of the expansion for a few years and most of it after that.
The administration had previously said 8.9 million people were determined to be eligible for Medicaid during the Obamacare open enrollment period.
Seven million enrollments will achieve a policy goal, but it probably won’t help embattled Democratic senators fighting for re-election in red states where the health law remains particularly unpopular. Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group financially backed by the Koch Brothers, targeted Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas with a new ad called “Jerry’s Obamacare Story.” It features Jerry the truck driver and his frustration over the law.
Jerry tells the camera he works hard - “60, 70, 80 hours a week” - running his own trucking business and he’s angry that his old insurance plan was canceled because of Obamacare. It’s the same kind of argument that’s been made for some time by people who oppose the law. What’s not clear is whether that argument will continue to resonate now that the law is just about entirely in place.
Chris Christie’s Top 3:
Here’s an exchange that caught our eye. It comes from Chris Christie’s interview with Megyn Kelly of Fox News, who asked Christie if he had “too much baggage” to run for president. He said he doesn’t think so.
But then she asked him to name the top three Republicans in his mind for the GOP nomination.
“Wow, that's an interesting question, and I say, I don't know if I can restrict myself to three,” said Christie. “But I can give you the ones that I can think of that are really good. I think Jeb Bush would be an outstanding candidate for president. I think Scott Walker would be a really good candidate for president. I think Paul Ryan would be a really good candidate for president.
It’s probably not surprising that Christie wouldn’t name himself even if he is serious about running. (Can’t seem overly ambitious, right?)
But Kelly noted that he failed to mention Rand Paul, the Republican who has been most vocal about his plans to run for president. Paul, who leans libertarian, and Christie, who leans to the middle, represent different poles of the party.
“I think he'll be a credible candidate for president. I think Marco Rubio would be a good candidate for president,” said Christie.
Christie launched a media blitz to rehab his image. A duo of interviews and a news conference came in conjunction with a report by a law firm he commissioned to do an internal review of his involvement in the political payback bridge lane closure scandal. The report concluded that Christie didn’t know of the plot. Separate federal and state investigations have not yet been concluded.
Paul Ryan’s dilemma:
There’s a new job opening in Washington after Dave Camp, the powerful chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, announced he was going to leave Congress after the next election.
Being in charge of the tax writing committee is a top job in Congress, and it has long been thought to be coveted by the GOP’s wonkish brainiac wunderkind, Rep. Paul Ryan. It was Ryan’s vision as chairman of the Budget Committee that led Mitt Romney to pick him as his 2012 vice presidential nominee. But Ways and Means has more power over the federal purse.
It also means Ryan could have a big choice ahead of him. It would be difficult to take over the chairmanship at Ways and Means - that’s a full time job - and mount a credible campaign for president.
Ryan, by the way, is set to unveil his latest budget vision on Capitol Hill today. His goal with that document is finding a way to balance the federal budget in 10 years.
Some other things we’re watching in Washington today:
GM CEO: Mary Barra will offer “my sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected by this recall … especially to the families and friends of those who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry.” Tomorrow is Barra’s first of two days of testimony on Capitol Hill about the recall of 2.6 million GM vehicles.
Washington Post: A Senate report concludes the CIA misled Americans on torture: Here’s an eye-catching lede from The Washington Post: “A report by the Senate Intelligence Committee concludes that the CIA misled the government and the public about aspects of its brutal interrogation program for years - concealing details about the severity of its methods, overstating the significance of plots and prisoners, and taking credit for critical pieces of intelligence that detainees had in fact surrendered before they were subjected to harsh techniques. The report, built around detailed chronologies of dozens of CIA detainees, documents a long-standing pattern of unsubstantiated claims as agency officials sought permission to use - and later tried to defend - excruciating interrogation methods that yielded little, if any, significant intelligence, according to U.S. officials who have reviewed the document.” Read the full Washington Post report.
The report the Post is mentioning has been years in the making. It was the source of a rare public blow-up between Sen. Dianne Feinstein and the CIA in March. Feinstein took to the Senate floor and accused the CIA of essentially spying on Senate investigators and tampering with a special set of computers they had been using at a CIA facility to conduct their investigation.
Feinstein has planned a Thursday vote by the Senate Intelligence Committee on whether to declassify a portion of the report. It isn’t clear if any Republicans will vote to make the report public. The White House would have to sign off on the move.
Obama endorses in Hawaii Senate primary: The President jumped into his home state Senate race Monday when he endorsed Brian Schatz, a rare foray into a Democratic primary for the president. The subtext here is that it still matters who a Democratic politician backed in the 2008 primary. Brian Schatz, the senator appointed by Gov. Neil Abercrombie to finish the term of Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died in 2012, was an Obama backer in 2012. Inouye had called for Rep. Colleen Hanabusa to be appointed to finish his term, but Abercrombie ignored the request. Hanabusa had been a Clinton supporter.
D.C. Primary Day: There’s a decent chance that D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray could lose in the district’s Democratic primary Tuesday. Gray has been neck and neck with council member Muriel Bowser in a recent poll conducted by The Washington Post.
And some fun tweets in our feed: