Obama: 8 million signed up for health care - FOX 35 News Orlando

Obama: 8 million signed up for health care

Posted: Updated:

By JOSH LEDERMAN and RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Eight million people have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges, President Barack Obama said Thursday, besting expectations and offering new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead of the midterm elections.

Obama appeared in the White House briefing room to trumpet the new figures, which beat initial projections by 1 million people. Equally critical: About 35 percent of those who signed up are under the age of 35, Obama said. Enrolling substantial numbers of younger, healthier Americans is crucial for the law's success.

"This thing is working," Obama said of the Affordable Care Act, his signature domestic achievement.

Obama and Democrats have been anxiously awaiting the age figures, especially those regarding young people — the most coveted demographic. Younger enrollees tend to be a healthier group overall, so their premiums can help offset higher cost of care for older enrollees. Too few young people in the mix, and the insurance pool could become lopsided and premiums could surge.

The demographic figures also give Democrats an opportunity to blunt the pessimism of Republicans, some of whom have accused the White House of "cooking the books" by announcing large overall enrollment numbers before releasing more detailed figures that provide a fuller picture.

Following the disastrous rollout of the exchanges in October, when HealthCare.gov was virtually unusable, Democrats have been hoping that higher-than-expected results could help their candidates reclaim the political high ground ahead of the midterm elections. Seven months out from Election Day, Democrats are seeking to turn the page on the law's flawed debut — a strategy underscored last week when Obama announced that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who became the face of the rollout failure, was stepping down.

Polling shows the law remains unpopular in much of the country, but Democrats plan to use the high enrollment figures to argue that by trying to repeal the law, Republicans are actively working to take health care away from millions of Americans who now rely on the exchanges.

"The repeal debate is and should be over," Obama said.

Other critical details for evaluating how well the law is working remain unknown. Officials haven't released a tally of how many enrollees were previously uninsured — the key to determining how many people gained coverage that they otherwise wouldn't have. Another unknown is how many enrollees sealed the deal by paying their first month's premium to the insurance companies.

Gallup estimates that slightly more than half of those getting coverage through the federal and state markets were previously uninsured, drawing that conclusion from the polling company's large survey tracking the health care overhaul.

Obama and top aides met earlier with leading insurance executives, including the CEOs of Wellpoint and Kaiser Permanente. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden also gave an update Thursday to state insurance commissioners during a private meeting.

"I think that's a pretty good number in terms of trying to make sure we have a healthy pool," Montana's insurance commissioner, Monica Lindeen, said of the surge in younger enrollees.

In another bout of positive news for Obama's health care law, California's state-run insurance exchange reported Thursday that nearly 1.4 million Californians had enrolled by the end of open enrollment, besting the Obama administration's projections by almost 100,000 people. State officials said another 1.9 million people gained coverage through an expansion of California's version of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

With the exchanges and the broader law looking increasingly viable, Obama and Democrats were hoping to move the political debate over "Obamacare" away from repeal and toward efforts to fix lingering issues with the law. Republicans have been reluctant to embrace fixes for fear of tacitly embracing the overall law. Obama said it's "absolutely possible" to make improvements but that it would require a change of attitude from Republicans.

In a statement issued as Obama spoke, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said: "It is time for Republicans to seek treatment for their obsession with repealing the Affordable Care Act, and join Democrats to strengthen and improve its historic protections."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Latest health newsMore>>

  • FDA approves new sleeping drug from Merck

    FDA approves new sleeping drug from Merck

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 9:09 AM EDT2014-08-19 13:09:36 GMT
    Merck Co. Inc. has won federal approval for a new type of sleeping pill designed to help people with insomnia stay asleep. The tablet, Belsomra, works by temporarily blocking chemicals known as orexins that control the sleep cycle and can keep people awake at night.
    Merck Co. Inc. has won federal approval for a new type of sleeping pill designed to help people with insomnia stay asleep. The tablet, Belsomra, works by temporarily blocking chemicals known as orexins that control the sleep cycle and can keep people awake at night.
  • WHO says Ebola has killed more than 1,200

    WHO says Ebola has killed more than 1,200

    Tuesday, August 19 2014 6:53 AM EDT2014-08-19 10:53:31 GMT
    The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 1,200 people since it began in December 2013, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. More than 2,200 have been sickened, according to the U.N. health agency's latest numbers.
    The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed more than 1,200 people since it began in December 2013, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. More than 2,200 have been sickened, according to the U.N. health agency's latest numbers.
  • New marijuana drug 'Wax' looks and feels like lip balm

    New marijuana drug 'Wax' looks and feels like lip balm

    Monday, August 18 2014 12:39 PM EDT2014-08-18 16:39:19 GMT
    It goes by the name Wax, Butter and Honeycomb on the streets, and it can pack a kick equal to 15 to 20 joints of marijuana. The new drug looks and feels like lip balm. It's made from the oils of marijuana plants and has a high level of THC - the chemical that produces a high.
    It goes by the name Wax, Butter and Honeycomb on the streets, and it can pack a kick equal to 15 to 20 joints of marijuana. The new drug looks and feels like lip balm. It's made from the oils of marijuana plants and has a high level of THC - the chemical that produces a high.
Powered by WorldNow

35 Skyline Drive
Lake Mary, FL 32746

Phone: (407) 644-3535
News Tips: (866) 55-FOX35

Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices