OVERNIGHT HEALTH: ObamaCare’s final tally

A dramatic surge of nearly 3.8 million enrollments in March and April helped bring ObamaCare's total sign-up number to more than 8 million, the Obama administration revealed Thursday. Last-minute enrollments included nearly 1.2 million younger people between the ages of 18 to 34, a group that made up 28 percent of the final number, federal health officials reported.

Another 4.8 million people signed up for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program at the state level, contributing to an informal tally from the Department of Health and Human Services that almost 13 million people are covered because of the healthcare law. The numbers from HHS are likely to be the final word on enrollments in ObamaCare’s first sign-up period.

The administration cheered the data as proof that the Affordable Care Act is fulfilling its goal of bringing healthcare coverage to millions of people. Officials also predicted that plan premiums would remain stable in every state next year despite some expert and industry projections to the contrary. Read more here

White House pushes back: The Obama administration is on the offensive over a GOP report that a third of people who have enrolled in Obamacare plans through federal exchanges have not yet paid for their insurance. The data, released Wednesday night by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, only counted premiums paid through April 15, said White House press secretary Jay Carney. He said the report left out millions of people who had not hit their first payment deadline. 

Vitter proposes compromise: After threatening to again derail an energy bill by including unrelated Obamacare language, Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) said he would drop the effort if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) agreed to have a binding vote on the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Reid is expected to call up the energy bill next week.

Corporations will save big: A new market study predicts large corporations will start moving employees off their insurance plans and onto Obamacare, saving them almost $700 million over the next decade. The report by S&P Capital IQ states the cost of coverage will slowly shift from employers to employees but over time overall costs will start to come down as more people join the health care exchanges.

HealthCare.gov developers make a killing: The Canadian computer service provider linked to the bungled rollout of HealthCare.gov, says its first quarter profits this year more than doubled. CGI Group’s boon was attributed to overseas demand coupled with favorable currency conditions. The growth is also linked to its 2012 acquisition of Logica, a former British competitor.

Hispanics still not buying ObamaCare: While HealthCare.gov saw a surge in younger and healthier adults enrolling for healthcare plans last month, a key demographic, Hispanics, have not been signing up as the administration had hoped. Hispanics are historically been the group lease likely to have insurance in the U.S. Among 36 states with federally-run exchanges, only 7.4 percent of people who signed up identified themselves as Latino. The administration says it still does not have ethnicity data for 31 percent of people who enrolled through the federal marketplaces and the data does not include figures from 15 state-run exchanges or people covered under Medicaid.

Medicare guidance to prevent overpaying: New Medicare guidance went into effect today that directs insurers not to pay for hospice prescriptions until they receive confirmation that the drugs are also not covered by the hospice provider. The measure is meant to prevent the federal government from overpaying millions of dollars to hospice organizations and drug insurance plans. However, critics say it may make it harder for terminally ill patients to get certain medications.

Administration touts lower premiums: The Obama administration says people who have bought plans under ObamaCare will have more stable health insurance costs contrary to critics who say it will lead to higher premiums. The administration argues that as younger and healthier people have entered the healthcare exchanges, premiums will lower. 

 

Friday's schedule

The American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons will continue its 2014 National Leadership Conference.

The Alliance for Health Reform will hold a briefing on integrating behavioral health and primary care. 


State by state

Indiana signups lag for federal health care law

Texas outpaces insurance marketplace enrollment projections

Maine lawmakers to consider bill expand Medicaid



What you might have missed at The Hill

House chairman calls for more HealthCare.gov scrutiny

HHS budget hearing to be held without Sebelius

CDC: Lifestyle, healthcare access key to avoiding early deaths

Perception of ObamaCare changed little in April