By Jonathan Easley - 12/29/13 07:30 AM EST
It’s been a rough three months for ObamaCare.
Since its Oct. 1 rollout, the glitch-plagued online portal has frustrated consumers, Republicans have hammered healthcare officials in a string of Congressional hearings, and the administration has resorted to increasingly controversial unilateral changes in an attempt to fix portions of the law.
When the Congressional Budget Office set a target of 7 million ObamaCare enrollees nationwide by March 31, it projected Connecticut would enroll a total of 33,000 by the end of the second enrollment period.
According to The Hartford Courant, 34,000 have already selected a private plan through Access Health CT. That makes Connecticut the first state to reach and surpass its goal, and it did so before the midway point of open enrollment.
Washington has been a success on a number of levels — the state is closing in on 150,000 enrollees — but it’s also special because it’s one of only a handful of states to release data on how many people have paid their premiums.
State officials say that about 65,000 had paid their premiums as of Dec. 24, against about 69,000 that have selected a plan but not yet paid. Consumers in Washington have until Jan. 15 to make their first premium payments.
The Obama administration has been criticized for including those who have picked a plan, but not necessarily made a premium payment, in their enrollment numbers. Health and Human Services has argued that because premium payments aren’t due yet, and because most people won’t pay until the deadline, that combining the two is the best indicator for interest in ObamaCare.
If other states are experiencing something comparable to Washington’s 50-percent payment rate so far, the extended deadlines will make it less likely that the bottom will fall out of the administration’s enrollment numbers next month.
In early October, while ObamaCare sputtered nationally, Kentuckians poured into the state’s exchange. Kentucky even led the country in enrollments for a short period of time.
But ObamaCare success in The Bluegrass State may go beyond successful enrollment numbers — it could also be a political boon to Democrats.
The state’s Democratic governor, Steve Beshear, has been one of the country’s most vocal gubernatorial advocates of the law.
Beshear’s decision to cast his lot in favor of ObamaCare is especially stark considering that Kentucky has two high-profile Republican senators, Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, that count themselves among ObamaCare’s most strident opponents.
Democrats will need more stories like this to play out in 2014 to bolster their dimming election prospects.
New York is the only state besides Connecticut to be more than halfway to its enrollment goal. As of Dec. 24, The New York Daily News reported that more than 150,000 had picked out a private plan through the state’s market.
That’s the second highest number in the country, trailing only California, and puts the state on pace to surge past its CBO target of 218,000 by March 31.
Covered California has been a positive headline-generating machine for the Affordable Care Act.
The website works, there’s been a coordinated public relations blitz to get people signed up, the exchange has had to bring on additional staff to handle the demand, and the state has reported tens of thousands of enrollees per day in the weeks running up to the enrollment deadline.
According to Charles Gaba, who keeps a detailed analysis of ObamaCare enrollments and projections at The Daily Kos, nearly 200,000 have picked out a private plan in The Golden State so far.