Although the new figures provide some clarity about how well the exchanges performed, there are still plenty of unknowns.
Officials haven’t released a tally of how many enrollees were previously uninsured and are thus gaining health care thanks to the law. It’s also unclear how many enrollees sealed the deal by paying their first month’s premium to the insurance companies.
Republicans seized on those uncertainties to argue that Obama is hyping figures that obscure the real damage the law is inflicting — like higher premiums, smaller provider networks and canceled policies, according to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“It’s long past time for Washington Democrats to work with us to remedy the mess they created — and that means repealing this law and replacing it with real reforms that actually lower costs,” McConnell said.
As Obama’s health law begins to look more viable, Democrats have been seeking to change the political debate from one about repeal to one about fixing lingering issues with the law.
Obama said it’s “absolutely possible” to make improvements, but that it would require a change of attitude from Republicans. But election-year posturing and the GOP’s reluctance to be seen as embracing “Obamacare” make than an unlikely proposition.
The president’s upbeat assessment came shortly after he and top aides had separate meetings with leading insurance executives and state insurance commissioners.
“I think that’s a pretty good number in terms of trying to make sure we have a healthy pool,” Montana’s insurance commissioner, Monica Lindeen, said of the surge in younger enrollees.
In other positive news for Obama’s health care law, California’s state-run insurance exchange reported Thursday that nearly 1.4 million Californians had enrolled by the end of open enrollment, besting original projections by almost 100,000 people.
(Photo: Associated Press)
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