Obamacare Sees Surge In Sign-Ups On Eve Of Deadline; Republicans Question TransparencyBy: Val Powell - March 31, 2014
With only a day to go before the first batch of signups closes, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—more popularly known as “Obamacare”—has yet to reach its target of 7 million registrants. President Obama’s trademark health care legislation has faced controversy since its inception, and it looks like the Republicans’ steady opposition is taking its toll.
Obamacare’s primary purpose was to make health insurance more affordable and accessible to the public without sacrificing the quality of claimable benefits. It aimed to minimize the number of uninsured Americans through increasing the coverage of public and private insurance and lowering insurance costs. It imposes certain requirements on insurance companies, such as covering new applicants with the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex, in exchange for incentives. Insurers such as WellPoint and CoOpportunity Health are, for the most part, satisfied with the way the program is running.
The program met a disastrous launch in October of last year, with many of the state-hosted sites for signup experiencing glitches. This resulted in lost application data, crashes, and delays. Interventions performed for weeks after the launch were able to get some of the sites running smoothly; others could not be fully recovered. Since then, the program has attracted over 6 million participants, many of whom are late applicants. Over a million signed up through the federal site just this weekend. White House Senior Advisor David Plouffe claims the enrollees actually numbered around 10 million, taking into account direct signups with private insurance companies, Medicaid, and children’s health care.
Republicans question the transparency in the handling of the program. They argue that because Obamacare aims to reduce the uninsured, the administration should show the extent to which this goal is being achieved. A McKinsey & Co. survey reports that 27% of respondents participating in Obamacare were previously uninsured. Supporters of the law take this as a positive sign. Still, Republicans and Democrats alike have come up with various proposals to improve the law. Many Republicans call for its complete repeal, with some like Senator Barrasso calling it unfixable.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that 14 million Americans will sign up for insurance in 2014 through private insurance agencies or the Medicaid expansion. Obamacare is expected to be in full swing in 2018, when the CBO predicts the program will have enrollees numbering 25 million through private insurance, and 12 million through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.
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