OVERNIGHT HEALTH: ObamaCare enrollees skew older

Too few young people are signing up for ObamaCare to stop premiums from rising, new data from the administration Monday shows.

Only 24 percent of ObamaCare's enrollees are young people, according to the new data, well below the 40 percent benchmark set by the administration for the critical 18- to 34-year-old age group.

To keep premiums affordable, experts say it is vital that the law attract young and healthy "invincibles" unlikely to need critical care, as well as uninsured people who are older and sicker.

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The administration struck a confident tone during a conference call with reporters, arguing that the law will work fine at present demographic levels. Officials said they expect young adults to sign up in higher numbers before open enrollment ends on March 31, as many observers expected younger and healthier people to put off enrolling until the last second.

Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the momentum with young enrollees “was particularly strong” in December, when the administration says it saw an eight-fold increase in the number of 18- to 34-year-olds signing up.

“We expected older adults to sign up early and we expect more young adults to come in by the end of the second enrollment period,” HHS Deputy Assistant Nancy Delew said.

But Republicans quickly worked to discredit the numbers, sending out stories highlighting how the figures fell below the administration's hopes. The Hill's Jonathan Easley has the details.

Reaching millennials: ObamaCare's state-based marketplaces are partnering with an enrollment group in a new attempt to boost young people's interest in the healthcare law.

The campaign from Covered California, Enroll America and other exchanges will livestream an ObamaCare-themed variety show from Los Angeles on Thursday, according to an advisory. The six-hour show is designed to feature prominently on social media sites and contains viral content urging people to shop for ObamaCare coverage, the announcement stated. 

Read more at Healthwatch.

More website problems: The Spanish-language registration website for ObamaCare coverage is suffering from a variety of technical and linguistic problems after launching two months late. CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the partner site to HealthCare.gov, contains grammatical and translation errors so severe that site users derided it as being written in "Spanglish."

"We end up having to translate it for them," healthcare navigator Adrian Madriz told The Associated Press, referring to would-be enrollees who speak Spanish. Read more from the wire service.

Reid says no O-Care amendments: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday that he would only allow "relevant" GOP amendments to the unemployment extension bill, but would not entertain non-germane proposals, including those meant to attack ObamaCare.

"We cannot have extension of emergency employment insurance be bogged down by a raft of political amendments," Reid said on the Senate floor Monday afternoon.

Last week, Reid proposed an 11-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits, paid for by extending the sequester until 2024. Reid initially said he wanted no amendments at all to his proposal, but he has since said he would consider "reasonable" GOP amendments.

Read moreat The Hill's Floor Action blog.

Hospitals blast proposed cuts: Hospital trade groups are pushing back against a proposal to pay for the extension of jobless benefits with another cut to Medicare providers. The American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals and America's Essential Hospitals argued Monday that extending some sequester cuts into 2024 would "jeopardize health services for seniors."

"While we do not oppose the extension of [unemployment] benefits, we do oppose using Medicare reductions to pay for non-Medicare related spending," the groups wrote in a letter to senators. The Hill's Healthwatch blog has more.


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