Top Dems blame 'sabotage' as ObamaCare enrollment slows

Top Dems blame 'sabotage' as ObamaCare enrollment slows
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Top House Democrats are blaming President TrumpDonald John TrumpHR McMaster says president's policy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan is 'unwise' Cast of 'Parks and Rec' reunite for virtual town hall to address Wisconsin voters Biden says Trump should step down over coronavirus response MORE for ObamaCare signup numbers that so far are lower than last year.

"While there are still two weeks remaining in Open Enrollment, these lagging numbers show that Republicans' sabotage of our nation's health care system is working,” said Reps. Richard NealRichard Edmund NealRep. Cedric Richmond set to join House Ways and Means Committee Coons beats back progressive Senate primary challenger in Delaware Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief MORE (D-Mass.), Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PallonePharma execs say FDA will not lower standards for coronavirus vaccine Dem chairmen urge CMS to prevent nursing homes from seizing stimulus payments Federal watchdog finds cybersecurity vulnerabilities in FCC systems MORE (D-N.J.) and Bobby ScottRobert (Bobby) Cortez ScottHouse passes bill to allow private lawsuits against public schools for discriminatory practices Pelosi: House will stay in session until agreement is reached on coronavirus relief This week: House returns for pre-election sprint MORE (D-Va.), the incoming chairmen of the three committees overseeing the Affordable Care Act.

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The Trump administration announced earlier Wednesday that 500,437 people signed up for ObamaCare coverage in the fourth week of the sign-up period, which ends Dec. 15.

Compared to this point last year, sign-ups are running about 11 percent lower, according to ObamaCare numbers analyst Charles Gaba. The full picture will not be clear until after Dec. 15. 

Experts say that actions taken by the Trump administration and congressional Republicans will reduce enrollment, though the extent remains to be seen. For example, 2019 is the first year that the mandate to have coverage will not be in effect, after Republicans repealed it in the tax law last year.

Trump has also opened up cheaper, leaner “short-term” health insurance plans that are expected to siphon some people away from ObamaCare plans.

The administration also again slashed funding for outreach to encourage people to sign up.

“The Trump Administration has starved the program intended to help families get covered by refusing to make congressionally-required investments in outreach and enrollment,” the Democrats said. “And the administration's promotion of inadequate coverage options, like short-term health plans, has led to cost increases for Americans, particularly those with preexisting conditions.”

The administration denies claims that it has sabotaged the law, saying that it has simply sought to open up less costly options for other plans for people to enroll in and to make outreach operations more efficient.