April 1st, 2014
09:29 AM ET
5 months ago

Inside Politics: A policy win and a political price for Obamacare

 “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.

Related: Official says Obamacare will reach original goal

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.

Related: Republicans hit a nerve on Obamacare

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.

Barra’s make-or-break moment for GM

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.

Related: Obama makes pick in contested Hawaii Senate race

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:

 

 


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soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    This ACA is the Law. No one can deny. GOP is better off either put up or shut up. ACA Law was very desperately needed in USA to curb insurance Greed, doctors fraud. God bless.

    April 1, 2014 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Congratulations Mr. President and thank you for keeping your campaign promise to us even while risking your political future.
    Everyone knows that the GOPeeing Teatards and their ilk are out of their minds with rage because THEY could not, more to the point WOULD not get this important piece of legislation passed under a Republican President. They caved in to the wants of big business not to the needs of the American people.
    The GOP will continue to disparage the ACA, and continue to build up reentment towards it in an effort to cash in along with their gerrymandered districts this coming November. The Democrats, therefore, need to fire back and flood the airwaves and print media with good and honest stories to combat their fake Obamacare anecdotes.
    Let the country know that Obamacare is helping people across America.
    Point out that as quietly as it is being kept folks in Red states are flooding to the website as well.
    Obamacare is here to stay and it is here for all Americans.
    Thank you Mr. President!!

    April 1, 2014 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  3. Bessy

    Glad to hear it ! Too bad so many people waited until the last minute to try and get covered. Our country is better for the ACA and time will prove it. GOP should just get with the program and stop trying to put a stop to it. IT IS THE LAW.

    April 1, 2014 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  4. RomneyWho

    ACA, The Law of the land, brought forward to heal and bring hope to the American clan, so let it stand, give the President a hand . . . noway, I refuse to give credit to that black man! :(

    April 1, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  5. jpmichigan

    We'll see. When the final numbers come out not just wishful thinking by the White house

    April 1, 2014 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  6. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I couldn't agree more Dominican Mama!!!

    Congratulations Mr. President!

    April 1, 2014 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. wendel

    when people see the advantages of health insurance the repos will have to shut up. The very fact that I don't have to makeup the cost of people without coverage should bring the cost down. Thank you Mr. President. Just keep spreading the good news and vote these repos out . Get out the vote.

    April 1, 2014 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    We are being lied to.......continuously, and we are too stupid too recognize it.

    April 1, 2014 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  9. Silence DoGood

    " backed by the Koch Brothers, targeted Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas with a new ad called “Jerry’s Obamacare Story.”
    ------–
    Oh no here we go again. Forget data – I found this guy.....
    Was he recommended by Hannity? Remember those "witnesses" were phony too.

    April 1, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. Donna

    let's do the math:

    They claim 7,000,000 "enrolled".
    Minus the 15% that haven't paid (some say 20%): 1,050,000
    Minus the cancelled insurance policies: 5,000,000
    Minus people that had insurance before: ?,???,???

    So all this for what? Almost the same as when it started. Deomcrats claimed there were 50,000,000 uninsured people just dying to get insurance. Where the heck are they??? Where is the other 43,000,000 people that we supposed did this for? Are all of these people now going to be hunted by the IRS and fined?

    Or was that all a huge lie like the rest of Obamacare?

    April 1, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. rs

    Clearly, the law works, and the benchmarks are being met. How many more meaningless anti-ACA votes will the House Republicans hold until they figure out- they lost, again.

    April 1, 2014 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  12. Rudy NYC

    I think Democrats should follow the advice of Bill Clinton and embrace the ACA, particularly in the states where Republicans are you to embrace it. Those places would mostly be the states where Republican governors are denying tens of thousands of state residents health care. Make them defend that.

    April 1, 2014 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  13. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House

    Numbers don't lie and republicans can't come to grips with that. Even with the flawed rollout, the law is on track to still hit 7,000,000. That shows demand. Just imagine how well this would be if republican governors expanded their Medicaid rolls. They're just ruthless.

    April 1, 2014 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  14. Ol' Yeller

    @Rick McDaniel

    "We are being lied to.......continuously, and we are too stupid too recognize it."

    I was lied to... continuously, and I was too stupid to recognize it.
    (Yet I will continue to watch faux news, because like I said, I am stupid).

    FIFY

    April 1, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  15. Silence DoGood

    I fully well expect the GOP to change its tune as ACA continues to decrease the number of uninsured people. They have no problem revising history to fit their needs. The conservative propaganda machine is always churning. There are a good number of folks out there that blame Obama for the Iraq war starting and the hurricane Katrina response. And there is even a small group of conservative conspiracy folks that blame Obama for actual physical hurricanes occurring. One day the conspiracy folks will be saying ACA was a conservative plan.

    April 1, 2014 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  16. rs

    Donna

    let's do the math:

    They claim 7,000,000 "enrolled".
    Minus the 15% that haven't paid (some say 20%): 1,050,000
    Minus the cancelled insurance policies: 5,000,000
    Minus people that had insurance before: ?,???,???

    So all this for what? Almost the same as when it started. Deomcrats claimed there were 50,000,000 uninsured people just dying to get insurance. Where the heck are they??? Where is the other 43,000,000 people that we supposed did this for? Are all of these people now going to be hunted by the IRS and fined?

    Or was that all a huge lie like the rest of Obamacare?
    ________________________________
    You don't believe the White House; you don't believe polls; you don't believe in Science (or evolution)....
    Your screed above sounds like some John Birch Society newsletter circa 1965. Fitting really as the sons of the man who financed the JBS are running the Republican Party today.

    April 1, 2014 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  17. rs

    Rick McDaniel

    We are being lied to.......continuously, and we are too stupid too recognize it.
    ______________________________
    You know Rick, there is a point beyond which denying facts only defeats the Rights' purpose. It is because of statements like yours (and others posting here today) that the Right has such a serious credibility issue. To wit:
    * Denying minorities and the poor the right to vote becomes "enhance quality voting"
    * Polls don't go your way? Don't believe em'
    * Pro-life by taking away Constitutionally founded Women's Rights? Ignore that the Right starves children, supports the death penalty, private prison, and seeks to kill Social Security and Medicare- oh, and the ACA too.

    Your posts, the Right, your party- all a sham. A mere front for the plutocrats of the 1%. Enjoy being sold out?

    April 1, 2014 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. Tony

    Donna, many people whose plans were canceled were automatically enrolled in other plans by their insurance companies. They did not have to go on the exchanges.

    From the LA Times (3/30/2014):

    "Precise figures on national health coverage will not be available for months. But available data indicate:

    • At least 6 million people have signed up for health coverage on the new marketplaces, about one-third of whom were previously uninsured.

    • A February survey by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. found 27% of new enrollees were previously uninsured, but newer survey data from the nonprofit Rand Corp. and reports from marketplace officials in several states suggest that share increased in March.

    • At least 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have signed up for state Medicaid programs, according to Rand's unpublished survey data, which were shared with The Times. That tracks with estimates from Avalere Health, a consulting firm that is closely following the law's implementation.

    • An additional 3 million young adults have gained coverage in recent years through a provision of the law that enables dependent children to remain on their parents' health plans until they turn 26, according to national health insurance surveys from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    • About 9 million people have bought health plans directly from insurers, instead of using the marketplaces, Rand found. The vast majority of these people were previously insured.

    • Fewer than a million people who had health plans in 2013 are now uninsured because their plans were canceled for not meeting new standards set by the law, the Rand survey indicates."

    The 6 million number is out of date, obviously.

    April 1, 2014 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  19. Keith

    Donna pretty much summed it up. After the insurance loses and the individuals who have not paid the ACA is a failure.

    April 1, 2014 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  20. Silence DoGood

    @Donna
    let's do the math:
    ( I will not reprint it since it is atrocious and Rush-rumor-based)
    -------
    You might want to check actual news sources instead conspiracy-based ones. Forbes (pretty smart business editors) claimed even in January that "9.4 million Americans have health insurance coverage as a result of Obamacare". And they debunked some of the obvious Rush lies about ACA too BTW.

    April 1, 2014 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  21. Randy, San Francisco

    Even if Democrats pay a heavy price in the 2014 mid-term elections for the ACA, it was the right and moral thing to do. Millions of uninsured Americans will benefit from the ACA. Add President Obama to the "Profiles in Courage" list.

    April 1, 2014 11:43 am at 11:43 am |