The disappointing Affordable Care Act (ACA) numbers the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released on Wednesday revealed that the law is working best in the states that are — shockingly — implementing the law as it was designed.
Of the 106,185 people who have completed an application for health insurance, nearly 75 percent came from 14 states and the District of Columbia that both set up their own exchanges and expanded Medicaid.
Unsurprisingly, California and New York combined for the bulk of the enrollments, 51,769. But the most promising news from the Golden State wasn’t even included in this report.
Peter Lee, the executive director of Covered California, reported Wednesday that as of Tuesday, 60,000 Californians had signed up for insurance. Signups have increased to a rate of almost 2,500 enrollees per day in November. At that pace, the state could be expected to enroll 402,500 people by March 31 but Lee says that he expects to hit a goal of 500,000 to 700,000 people by then, which means he expects the pace to pick up by at least 640 people a day to over 3,000 enrollees.
Lee’s optimism is linked to more than the enrollment numbers. It seems California’s consumers are happy with the state’s website.
“Overall, nearly 70 percent of consumers who completed the survey found the application process easy to complete, and 88 percent of customers visiting CoveredCA.com found the information needed to choose a health plan that was right for them,” Covered California reported in a statement released Wednesday, giving Republicans another reason to hope that California isn’t a bellwether for the rest of the nation.
Red Kentucky is the only state in the union that voted for Mitt Romney and set up its own exchange, thanks in large part to Democratic governor Steve Beshear. The state’s site signed up a total of 32,485 Kentuckians, with 5,586 enrolling in private plans, in its first month of operation. This reduces the state’s uninsured population —estimated at 640,000 — by just over 5 percent.
Of course, it’s not hard for the states to look impressive next to the federal number that is anemically low. And not all the states that set up their own exchanges have succeeded. Oregon’s marketplace is so flawed, they didn’t even have numbers to report for October.
Implementing health care reform was never supposed to be easy.
“It’s like fixing an airplane while it’s in flight, if there is something terribly wrong with the plane,” said Timothy Jost, a health law professor at Washington & Lee University and an expert on the ACA.
And that’s without the unprecedented campaign of sabotage the right has waged. But the obstruction that has threatened the law most has been the combination of a mostly unforced error — Healthcare.gov’s disastrous launch — and Republican states refusing to launch their own exchanges. While the right is thrilled they’ve assisted in this catastrophe, it was the ancillary result of another sabotage strategy that was either masterminded or enthusiastically encouraged by Michael Cannon.