OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Low numbers for ObamaCare

The Obama administration on Wednesday said 106,185 people selected private health plans under ObamaCare in its first month, only about one-fifth of the administration's stated goal.

Only 26,794 people have enrolled through HealthCare.gov, the error-ridden online system serving 36 states. The paltry numbers represent a new blow to an administration already dealing with political fallout from the website and questions about why people's existing plans are being lost under the new healthcare law despite President Obama's promise they could be kept.

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would not say Wednesday how many people have paid their first premium under ObamaCare, and did not release a demographic breakdown of program applicants. Elise Viebeck at The Hill reports.

Give us more: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released its much-anticipated early ObamaCare enrollee data on Wednesday, but now the administration faces pressure to provide a more detailed breakdown of that data. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius reported that 106,000 people selected private health plans under ObamaCare in the program's first month, but that number includes those who haven’t yet made a payment.

On a conference call with reporters, Sebelius said those who have already selected plans scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1 don’t owe their first payments until Dec. 15. She argued that the timing between Wednesday’s release and the Dec. 15 deadline put the agency in an odd position, and that its decision to combine the early data was an attempt to provide a complete picture of how the enrollment process was coming along.

Sebelius also pledged that the HHS would provide a breakdown between those who have paid and those who have selected a plan before the end of the year. But that’s not the only data that was missing from Wednesday’s breakdown. Jonathan Easley at The Hill reports.

About to lose it: House Democrats on Wednesday expressed increasing frustration at the Obama administration’s inability to improve the rollout of ObamaCare.

Democrats said they’re worried about "being dragged into this non-stop cycle" of bad news about the ObamaCare rollout, rather than celebrating the successes of the law they helped to pass, a Democratic aide said.

"They're voicing those frustrations with the administration," the aide said following a Democratic Caucus meeting where administration officials got an earful from exasperated lawmakers.

With the House vote just two days away, many Democrats are urging the White House to come up with an administrative alternative to legislation sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) that would allow insurance companies to offer their old insurance plans. The GOP bill is a response to the nearly 5 million people who have seen their health plans canceled under ObamaCare. Justin Sink and Mike Lillis at The Hill report.

Tenuous unity: House Democratic leaders are doubling down in their opposition to GOP legislation that would allow Americans to keep their healthcare plans, even as the party is taking a political drubbing over the contentious issue. Although several centrist Democrats have already endorsed the Republican measure, sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Democratic leaders are digging in behind President Obama, who is adamantly opposed to the GOP bill. Mike Lillis at The Hill reports.

 

State by State:

Medicaid expansion is working in Arkansas, The Atlantic reports.

Connecticut is the only state to enroll more people in the state’s health insurance marketplace than Medicaid since Oct. 1, NBC reports.

 

Reading List:

Canceling lousy policies is a good thing, says Robert Reich at The Huffington Post.

The White House has few options left, writes Megan McArdle at Bloomberg.

Matt Miller at The Washington Post looks at Typhoon Haiyan and what it tells us about ObamaCare.

Former President Clinton sticks the knife in ObamaCare, says Jonathan Tobin at Commentary.

 

What you may have missed at HealthWatch:

Officials hedge over website deadline.

GOP senators use Clinton against ObamaCare.

Democrats eager to change the message.

 

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Jonathan Easley/ jeasley@thehill.com / 202-407-8014 / @joneasley


Elise Viebeck/ eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523 / @eliseviebeck