KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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With Solid ACA Enrollment Numbers, Administration Proclaims ‘Death Spiral’ Claims False

Despite all the turmoil surrounding the law, 11.5 million Americans enrolled in the exchanges nationwide, which is about 290,000 more than the same time last year. "This market is not merely stable; it is on track for growth," said Aviva Aron-Dine, a senior adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services.

USA Today: Administration Releases Last Big Obamacare Sign-Up Report Amid Hill Fight
The numbers, up nearly 300,000 from the same point last year, come despite what HHS senior counselor Aviva Aron-Dine called "significant headwinds" on Capitol Hill. Congressional efforts to repeal the ACA without a replacement plan sets policymaking on a "dangerous path" that jeopardizes the health of up to 30 million people, [Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement.] (O'Donnell, 1/10)

Roll Call: Obamacare Markets See Growth Despite Premium Hikes
The total includes 8.7 million who signed up through HealthCare.gov and 2.8 million who enrolled through state-based marketplaces. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill congressional Republicans cleared last year that would have repealed the health care law would have eliminated coverage for about 22 million people who receive coverage either through the marketplaces or Medicaid, the federal-state program for the poor. President Barack Obama vetoed that measure, which is now serving as a starting point in the current discussions about repealing the law. (Siddons, 1/10)

Los Angeles Times: Millions Sign Up For Obamacare As Trump And GOP Lawmakers Scramble For A Way To Roll It Back
As of Dec. 24, more than 11.5 million people had enrolled in a health plan through one of the insurance marketplaces created by the law, including HealthCare.gov and Covered California, federal data released Tuesday show. That is nearly 300,000 more sign-ups than at the same point a year earlier, signaling strength in the marketplaces despite GOP criticism and uncertainty about whether Republicans will scrap them. (Levey, 1/10)

Modern Healthcare: ACA Signups Continue To Outpace Last Year, Hitting 11.5 Million 
The HHS said it has received 35,000 calls from people asking if they should still get coverage or re-enroll. The agency reaffirmed that the ACA remains the law of the land and that coverage they signed up for before the end of the month would begin on Feb. 1. Officials believe a strong finish will bolster the case for preserving the ACA which helped reduce the nation's uninsured rate to a historic low of about 9%. (Dickson, 1/11)

The Hill: ObamaCare Enrollment Hits 11.5M For 2017 
The new numbers fall below HHS's projection for open enrollment, though there are still two and a half weeks left in the enrollment period. Burwell estimated that nearly 13.8 million people would sign up for ObamaCare in 2017. (Hellmann, 1/10)

And media outlets look at enrollment numbers in the states —

Miami Herald: More Than 1.6 Million Floridians Have Signed Up For Obamacare Coverage For 2017, HHS Says
With Congress poised to begin a fast-track repeal of the Affordable Care Act this week, and the Jan. 31 deadline approaching for consumers to enroll in a plan, the Obama administration on Tuesday reported, for the first time, the age, ethnicity and gender of the 11.5 million Americans who have signed up for 2017 coverage under the law better known as Obamacare. Enrollment in the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., has outpaced the same period from last year by about 286,000 people, according to the report — evidence of growth that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services seized on to refute claims by congressional Republicans that the ACA’s insurance exchanges are in a “death spiral” and will eventually implode. (Chang, 1/10)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: 480,000 Georgians Have Chosen Obamacare Health Plans So Far
More than 480,000 Georgians have selected health plans through the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, insurance marketplace so far, new federal data shows. Nationally, upwards of 11.5 million Americans have chosen ACA plans for 2017 so far — up 2.5 percent from the same period during last year’s open enrollment, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report released Tuesday. (Williams, 1/10)

Chicago Sun Times: Future Of Obamacare In Doubt, But People Continue To Sign Up 
Large numbers of people continue to sign up for health care plans under the Affordable Care Act — both in Illinois and nationwide — but given the program’s uncertain future, local officials on Tuesday urged people not to delay in picking a plan...Some 351,000 Illinois residents have signed up for health insurance under the law during the current open enrollment period, running through Jan. 31, which is about 4,400 more people than at the same time last year, according to federal figures. (Esposito, 1/10)

Des Moines Register: Obamacare Marketplace Attracts 52,237 Iowans, Despite Controversy
Obamacare’s days may be numbered, but an increasing number of Iowans are signing up for its coverage. Federal officials reported Tuesday that 52,237 Iowans had enrolled in private insurance plans since Nov. 1 via the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplace, healthcare.gov. That’s 5 percent more than enrolled over a similar period a year earlier. (Leys, 1/10)

The Philadelphia Inquirer: Obamacare Enrollment In Pa., N.J., Spikes After Trump's Election
Despite promises from the president-elect and Congress that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed, and higher prices for coverage, enrollment in the Obamacare marketplaces increased after the November election both nationally and locally. A new federal report released Tuesday stated that 11.5 million people nationwide signed up for coverage through the health-insurance exchanges between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, up from about 11.2 million during a similar period in 2015. The exchanges make it possible for people who are not covered by an employer to buy a health plan that for most is federally subsidized. (Wood, 1/10)

Kaiser Health News: Fewer Americans Paid Obamacare Tax Penalty In 2016
About 6.5 million Americans paid an average penalty of $470 for not having health insurance in 2015 — 20 percent fewer than the year before, according to data released Tuesday by the IRS. The IRS collected $3 billion, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a letter to members of Congress. (Galewitz, 1/10)

Kaiser Health News: Obama’s Health Care Legacy: A Landmark Becomes A Question Mark
When President Barack Obama signed his landmark health care bill on March 23, 2010, he achieved what presidents and members of Congress had long tried and failed to do — to provide near-universal health insurance to Americans. Democrats were jubilant. Those in Obama’s inner circle, like Bob Kocher, a special adviser to the president on health care policy and one of the law’s architects, celebrated the victory at the White House. “It was a moment of total joy,” Kocher recalled. “We felt like we’d accomplished something hard and amazing and important that would go down in history as being an important step forward in American health care.” (Varney, 1/10)

This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.