HHS chief kicks off ObamaCare signup period

HHS chief kicks off ObamaCare signup period
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The Obama administration is hitting the airwaves Tuesday to promote the final ObamaCare signup period of Obama's presidency.


Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell took part in nearly a dozen radio and TV interviews to kick off the first day of ObamaCare’s open enrollment period for the federal marketplace.

This year, health officials hope to boost ObamaCare’s numbers by 1 million to reach a total of 13.8 million customers.

Burwell spoke with popular radio DJs in cities like Philadelphia, Charlotte, N.C., and Dallas and San Antonio in Texas, which have some of the nation’s highest rates of uninsured people.

Tuesday’s outreach is part of the White House’s major ObamaCare enrollment push in 11 states this fall, nearly all of which are led by GOP leaders who remain firmly opposed to the law.

The administration is also targeting people of color, who make up a disproportionate share of the nation’s uninsured.

About one-quarter of people who remain uninsured are Hispanic, and about 12 percent of uninsured people are black, according to HHS.

Burwell called into two national radio shows with predominantly black listeners, the "Russ Parr Morning Show" and the "Tom Joyner Show."

She also appeared on prominent Hispanic networks like Univision, Telemundo and CNN en Español.

It is the fourth and final signup period under Obama, and experts say this one holds particularly high stakes. 

Attracting new customers will likely be tougher this year after the administration announced a 25 percent average increase in premiums for people buying plans through ObamaCare.

The vast majority of people are protected from those increases because of subsidies, but some health experts warn that the bad headlines could turn people away from the law.

Signups for ObamaCare run through Jan. 31, though people without insurance must sign up for coverage by Dec. 15 if they hope to avoid a hefty fine for lacking coverage next year. 

Tuesday is also the first day to enroll on many state-run ObamaCare marketplaces, though some officials, like Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee, say they’re laying low for the next week, until after the presidential election.