KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

White House: More Than 1 Million Now Enrolled In Obamacare

News outlets reported on the numbers as Democrats weighed in about what they think should happen next. 

USA Today: Federal Health Market Surpasses 1 Million Signups
More than 975,000 people signed up for health insurance through the federal exchange between Dec. 1 and Dec. 24, the deadline to enrollment to be covered by Jan. 1, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in a blog item posted Sunday. Marilynn Tavenner, the CMS administrator, wrote that 1.1 million Americans have enrolled in insurance through the exchange since it opened Oct. 1. The December figures are seven times the total enrolled through October and November, Tavenner wrote. That's a sign that the website, which was hampered by repeated outages and glitches when it opened, is now working for most people  (Locker, 12/29).

NBC News: Last-Minute Surge Pushes Obamacare Sign-Ups To 1.1 Million
The White House last week signaled an extension for sign-ups in light of the last-minute surge and earlier site errors, although it has yet to specify details. "We are eager to assist millions more Americans gain the health security offered by the Affordable Care Act in the weeks and months ahead,” [CMS director Marilyn] Tavenner added. ... However, there are concerns as to whether the program will work as advertised on January 1, Reuters reported - with some insurance industry executives expressing fear that some people who need medical care during the first days of 2014 will head to the doctor, only to find there is no record of their new insurance (Jamieson, 12/29).

The Associated Press: Federal Health Market Surpasses 1 Million Signups
The administration has yet to provide a December update on the 14 states running their own exchanges. While California, New York, Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut have performed well, others are still struggling. Still, the end-of-year surge suggests that with HealthCare.Gov now functioning better, the federal market may be starting to pull its weight. The windfall comes at a critical moment for Obama's sweeping health care law, which becomes "real" for many Americans on Jan. 1 when coverage through the exchanges and key patient protections kick in. ... For Americans who successfully chose insurance plans by Dec. 24, coverage should start on New Year's Day for those who pay their first month's premium by Jan. 10 (Lederman, 12/29).

Earlier -- 

NPR News: The Number 6 Says It All About The Rollout
When it comes to health care, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act was supposed to be measured in the millions. That's how many people were expected to sign up for insurance to begin on Jan. 1. But for both supporters and opponents of the law, there's one number that sticks out above all others. Six. That's how many people actually managed to enroll through the federal website the first day it opened, Oct. 1 (Rovner, 12/27).

And --

Politico: White House Looks To Spread Good Obamacare News
The White House, Democratic lawmakers and advocacy organizations will launch a campaign this week to highlight real-life experiences under the Affordable Care Act — tales so compelling that they help drive up enrollment, marginalize Republican repeal efforts and erase memories of this fall’s debacle. ... Democrats still see this moment as their best chance yet to show voters why the embattled law is worth protecting by featuring accounts of people visiting the doctor for the first time in years, receiving treatment for a nagging ailment or buying medication that they could never afford before (Budoff Brown and Allen, 12/29).

Reuters: Exclusive: U.S. Government Urged To Name CEO To Run Obamacare Market
The White House is coming under pressure from some of its closest allies on healthcare reform to name a chief executive to run its federal health insurance marketplace ..Advocates have been quietly pushing the idea of a CEO who would set marketplace rules, coordinate with insurers and state regulators on the health plans offered for sale, supervise enrollment campaigns and oversee technology, according to several sources familiar with discussions between advocates and the Obama administration. ... The White House is not embracing the idea of creating a CEO, administration officials said (Morgan, 12/29).

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