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Despite Compressed Sign-Up Period, ACA Enrollment Nearly Matches Last Year’s

Julie Rovner, Kaiser Health News Use Our Content

This Kaiser Health News story might be republished without cost (details).

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A day after President Donald Trump mentioned the Affordable Care Act “has been repealed,” officers reported that Eight.Eight million Americans have signed up for protection on the federal insurance coverage alternate in 2018 — practically reaching 2017’s quantity in half the sign-up time.

That complete is way from full. Enrollment continues to be open in elements of seven states, together with Florida and Texas, that use the federal alternate however have been affected by hurricanes earlier this yr. The numbers released Thursday by the Department of Health and Human Services additionally didn’t embody those that signed up between midnight Dec. 15 and three a.m. ET on Dec. 16, the ultimate deadline for 2018 protection, in addition to those that couldn’t end enrolling earlier than the deadline and left their cellphone quantity for a name again.

And enrollment has not but closed in 11 states — together with California and New York — plus Washington, D.C., that run their very own insurance coverage exchanges. Those states are anticipated so as to add a number of million extra enrollees.

The sturdy numbers for sign-ups on the federal alternate — 96 p.c of final yr’s complete — shocked each supporters and opponents of the well being legislation, who nearly universally thought the numbers could be decrease. Not solely was the sign-up interval lowered by half, however the Trump administration dramatically reduce funding for advertising and enrollment aid. Republicans in Congress spent a lot of the yr attempting to repeal and substitute the legislation, whereas Trump repeatedly declared the well being legislation useless, resulting in widespread confusion.

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On the opposite hand, a Trump resolution aimed toward hurting the exchanges could have backfired. When he canceled federal subsidies to assist insurers supply reductions to their lowest-income prospects, it produced some surprising bargains for many who qualify for federal premium assist. That could have boosted enrollment.

“Enrollment defied expectations and the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine it,” mentioned Lori Lodes, a former Obama administration well being official who joined with different Obama alumni to attempt to promote enrollment within the absence of federal outreach efforts. “The demand for affordable coverage speaks volumes — proving, yet again, the staying power of the marketplaces.”

“The ACA is not repealed and not going away,” tweeted Andy Slavitt, who oversaw the ACA beneath President Barack Obama.

The tax invoice handed by Congress this week repeals the fines for many who fail to acquire well being protection, however these fines don’t go away till 2019. Still, that has added to the confusion for 2018 protection.

And it stays unclear whether or not Congress will make one other try to repeal the legislation in 2018.

“I think we’ll probably move on to other issues,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) mentioned in an interview Friday with NPR.

Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a nationwide well being coverage information service. It is an editorially impartial program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation which isn’t affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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