‘ObamaCare’ enrollments exceed target in Arizona


ObamacareThe enrollment numbers for the Affordable Care Act aka “ObamaCare” are now available. A state-by-state breakdown of enrollment numbers can be reviewed here (.pdf).

Many residents in the 36 states that did not set up their own marketplaces rushed to enroll before the April 15th deadline. Late surge in health-care sign-ups in holdout states. “ObamaCare” sign-ups surged even in Red States where local officials are hostile to the law.

Here in Arizona, which left it to the federal insurance exchange marketplace to do all of the heavy lifting, Arizona health insurance signups soared to 120,000:

The number of Arizonans who signed up for a health insurance plan using the Affordable Care Act’s health care marketplace nearly doubled in the final month of open enrollment, as a last-minute rush to get insured sent total enrollment above what was projected for the state, according to a report released by federal officials Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report shows more than 120,000 people selected a plan during the six-month open enrollment period that ended March 31, a huge jump that more than doubled the number who had enrolled just a month earlier. The figures include people allowed to sign up during a two-week extension after the March 31 deadline because they had started their applications.

The figures are above the 111,000 Arizonans the government projected to choose plans. Another 101,000 people were determined to be eligible for Arizona’s Medicaid plan for the poor.

According to an estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 1.2 million of 6.5 million Arizonans did not have health insurance in 2011, 18 percent of the population. A report prepared for Gov. Jan Brewer in 2012 said an estimated 470,000 out of 621,000 eligible people were expected to be getting insurance through the federal marketplace by 2016.

Another 300,000 will gain coverage from the state’s expansion of its Medicaid plan for the poor, most from a population that was previously covered before a budget crisis forced an enrollment freeze. Updated state figures released Thursday showed more than 129,000 people who had been eligible before the freeze were re-enrolled and more than 16,000 newly eligible people earning between 100 percent and 138 percent of the federal poverty line had enrolled since Jan. 1. That brought the total number of people insured through the state Medicaid program to nearly 1.5 million.

[That is 1.5 million Arizona residents whom 36 Tea-Publican Arizona legislators/litigants, and every Tea-Publican candidate for Congress, want to take away their access to health care. It is critically important that these Arizona residents are (a) registered to vote, and (b) actually turn out to vote against these Tea-Publicans in November.]

* * *

[I]n Arizona the U.S. Census Bureau statistics show about 30 percent of residents are Hispanic. The numbers for health insurance signups show just over 24 percent of those seeking insurance were Hispanic, well below the state’s population mix. Only about 65 percent of people signing up nationally provided optional race information.

But that’s not surprising, said Dr. Daniel Derksen, a public health policy and management professor at the University of Arizona who helped design New Mexico’s health insurance exchanges. He noted that the federal website was faulty in October, and the Spanish language version was essentially unusable through November.

“So given that most of the enrollment for Hispanic/Latinos really happened in the last two months, it’s higher than you might expect,” Derksen said.

The shortfall makes it even more important for outreach groups to target Hispanic and American Indian populations for signups during the next open enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 15 through Feb. 15, 2015. American Indians make up 5.3 percent of the state’s population but just 0.6 percent of total enrollment in Arizona. Tribal members are exempt from financial penalties for not having insurance under the health care law.

This AP report also included this stenographic recitation to a “report released Wednesday by U.S. House Republicans said 67 percent of people who had signed up through federal marketplaces had paid their first month’s premiums as of April 15, although that was a far lower number than reported by some individual insurers.” This GOP report had been thoroughly debunked as a fraud by mid-afternoon on Thursday, yet it still appeared in morning newspapers in this AP report today. #media fail.

Talking Points Memo reported on Thursday ‘Incredibly Rigged’:

Insurance industry source tells TPM that the House GOP survey of how many Obamacare enrollees have actually paid their first premiums was “incredibly rigged.”

More on what the House GOP was up to here. And a copy of the actual survey form here.

In a follow-up post today, #busted:

I asked the GOP staff at the committee if they had a counter to the argument that their numbers were incomplete and in essence rigged. On background, one staffer there basically told me that they didn’t have a counter. The committee press release makes it clear, I was told, that these data represent payments only through April 15, and the committee will seek another report May 20.

In other words, this staffer is saying: Yep. Which makes it rather hard to avoid the conclusion that the committee knowingly put out a bad number. Why would a committee of the House of Representatives do something like that? Well, what am I saying? We know why.

Greg Sargent explains how this surge in “ObamaCare” enrollment in Red States may play out in Senate elections this November. Obamacare enrollment spikes in states with tough Senate races:

Elise Vieback has a terrific piece this morning explaining that enrollments have beat administration expectations in the majority of states with competitive Senate races:

Seven states exceeded expectations by the end of the special enrollment period in mid-April, including six with Senate seats currently held by Democrats. 

In Louisiana, which beat its target by 8 percent, more than half of enrollments took place in the last six weeks. 

New Hampshire and North Carolina had the best results of the 11 states, achieving 211 and 187 percent of their enrollment goals…Michigan, Colorado, Montana and Georgia also beat expectations.

The GOP’s single-minded “repeal ObamaCare” campaign strategy may come back to bite them in the ass in a big way.

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AZ BlueMeanie
The Blue Meanie is an Arizona citizen who wishes, for professional reasons, to remain anonymous when blogging about politics. Armed with a deep knowledge of the law, politics and public policy, as well as pen filled with all the colors stolen from Pepperland, the Blue Meanie’s mission is to pursue and prosecute the hypocrites, liars, and fools of politics and the media – which, in practical terms, is nearly all of them. Don’t even try to unmask him or he’ll seal you in a music-proof bubble and rendition you to Pepperland for a good face-stomping. Read blog posts by the infamous and prolific AZ Blue Meanie here.