Re­port: 2 mil­lion haven’t paid for Oba­macare

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY TOM HOWELL JR.

Nearly 2 mil­lion peo­ple haven’t paid for Oba­macare cov­er­age they se­lected dur­ing the 2017 en­roll­ment sea­son that ended on Jan. 31, the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion said Mon­day in a re­port that ar­gues Amer­i­cans are clam­or­ing for more af­ford­able op­tions.

The Cen­ters for Medi­care and Med­i­caid Ser­vices said only 10.3 mil­lion of the 12.2 mil­lion peo­ple who signed up on the Af­ford­able Care Act’s ex­changes had paid the pre­mi­ums nec­es­sary to keep their cov­er­age as of March 15.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion last fall es­ti­mated that 11.4 mil­lion in­di­vid­u­als would hold ef­fec­tu­ated cov­er­age on an av­er­age monthly ba­sis over the course of 2017, mean­ing ac­tual en­roll­ment is fall­ing short of that tar­get, though ini­tial sign-ups fell short of ex­pec­ta­tions to be­gin with.

Democrats say Pres­i­dent Trump is ac­tively sab­o­tag­ing the mar­kets by fail­ing to pro­mote or fully en­force the law, though the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Med­i­caid Ser­vices said the num­bers un­der­scored in­her­ent prob­lems in the 2010 law it­self — and the need to re­peal and re­place it.

“Con­sumers are send­ing a clear mes­sage that cost and af­ford­abil­ity are ma­jor fac­tors in their de­ci­sion to can­cel or ter­mi­nate cov­er­age,” CMS Ad­min­is­tra­tor Seema Verma said.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s state­ments marked a dra­matic shift in tone from the Obama era, when the ad­min­is­tra­tion char­ac­ter­ized such at­tri­tion as a nat­u­ral part of en­roll­ment cy­cles. Last year, about 12.7 mil­lion se­lected plans on the ex­changes, yet en­roll­ment slid to 11.1 mil­lion by the end of March.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, mean­while, said ris­ing pre­mi­ums and dwin­dling choices in the mar­ket­place were tak­ing their toll.

“Not sur­pris­ingly, as costs con­tinue to go up, fewer Amer­i­cans can af­ford to pay more and get less for health­care. Many in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies across the coun­try are tired of hav­ing their health­care op­tions dic­tated to them by Wash­ing­ton — par­tic­u­larly when those lim­ited op­tions are un­af­ford­able,” Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­re­tary Tom Price said.

“That’s why ev­ery day we are work­ing on be­half of Pres­i­dent Trump on solutions that will show a lit­tle hu­mil­ity from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, equip states to serve their unique and di­verse pop­u­la­tions, and put health­care de­ci­sions in the hands of pa­tients, fam­i­lies and their doc­tors,” he said.

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