The good news and bad news about ‘ObamaCare’

First the good news. The Obama administration announced today that it has surpassed the target of 6 million private insurance enrollments on the Exchanges in advance of the March 31 deadline on Monday. Millions more Americans have gained access to health care through expanded Medicaid. BREAKING: Obamacare Enrollment Tops 6 Million:

Image: Supreme Court Upholds Obama's Affordable Care ActOn Thursday, President Obama announced on a call with volunteers that the number of Americans who have enrolled in health insurance plans under Obamacare has hit six million.

With several days left to go before open enrollment ends on March 31, the administration has met its target. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that Obamacare enrollment would hit six million by the end of its enrollment period. Although the CBO initially projected a seven million enrollment figure, that number was revised down after technological issues plagued the insurance marketplaces’ websites this past fall.

Just ten days ago, the Obama administration announced that enrollments had hit five million — meaning that the pace of enrollment has significantly picked up recently, and a million Americans enrolled in less than two weeks. The White House has always anticipated a last-minute surge in enrollment, since previous efforts to enroll Americans in government-run health care programs have demonstrated that people typically wait until the last minute to sign up.

Those who start the enrollment process by March 31 can get an extension to complete their enrollment. Obama extends health-care sign-up time for people having trouble signing up:

Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on HealthCare.gov, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.

Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on HealthCare.gov to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.

For all the wingnut trolls who waste your life listening to talk radio and FAUX News, no, Obama is not a tyrant nor a dictator. Fox News’ ACA Delay Freakout Ignores History:

[The] Bush Administration Waived Fees For Seniors Who Faced Enrollment Deadline Under Medicare Part D. A May 2006 McClatchy article pointed out steps taken under former President George W. Bush to waive penalties and extend enrollment deadlines for seniors under his Medicare Part D rollout:

With pressure mounting to extend next Monday’s enrollment deadline for the Medicare prescription-drug benefit, the Bush administration took another small step in that direction Tuesday, waiving penalty fees for very low-income seniors and people with disabilities who sign up late.

[…]

The move follows a recent administration decision to allow the same impoverished beneficiaries to sign up for Medicare drug coverage until Dec. 31. [McClatchy, 5/9/06]

Note that Bush’s extension was not just until the middle of the month, it was to the end of the year. And the right-wing noise machine did not call Bush a tyrant or dictator.

Now for the bad news. The right-wing noise machine of the conservative media entertainment complex, and its acolytes in the mainstream media (looking at you AP), has largely succeeded in its unrelenting campaign of misinformation, disinformation,  distortions and propagandist lies to discourage sign-ups with the malicious intent of sabotaging “ObamaCare,” to deny access to health care to millions of people desperately in need of affordable health care. Dante would create a special ring in hell for these evil bastards in his Inferno.

The latest Kaiser News poll is both heartbreaking and infuriating:

In the final days of open enrollment for new health insurance options under the ACA, substantial shares of the uninsured remain unaware of the law’s individual mandate and the looming deadline to sign up for coverage. A third of those who lack coverage as of mid-March are unaware that the law requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance or pay a fine. When it comes to the specifics, four in ten of the uninsured (39 percent) are aware that the deadline to sign up for coverage is at the end of March, leaving about six in ten unaware of the March deadline.

When reminded of the mandate and the deadline, half of those without coverage as of mid-March say they think they will remain uninsured, while four in ten expect to obtain coverage and one in ten are unsure.

A third (33 percent) of the uninsured say they have tried to get insurance for themselves in the past 6 months, including 18 percent who report attempting to get coverage through a health insurance marketplace, 14 percent from Medicaid, and 13 percent directly from a private insurance company. Still, the large majority – 67 percent – say they have not attempted to get coverage.

While some report trying to get coverage from new options available under the ACA, large shares of the uninsured remain unaware of two of the law’s key provisions that could help them get coverage. About half the uninsured are unaware that the ACA gives states the option of expanding their Medicaid programs, and more than four in ten don’t know that it provides financial help to low- and moderate-income individuals to help them purchase coverage. Despite extensive campaigns in media and on the ground attempting to get them enrolled, just one in nine (11 percent) of the uninsured say they have been personally contacted by anyone about the health care law through a phone call, email, text message, or door-to-door visit.

As the ACA turns four years old, overall public opinion on the law shifted in a more positive direction this month, though unfavorable views still outnumber favorable ones. In March, 46 percent say they have an unfavorable view of the law (down 4 percentage points since January), while 38 percent say they have a favorable view (up 4 percentage points since January). The gap between unfavorable and favorable views is now eight percentage points, down from a recent high of 16 points in November and January.

* * *

As previous Kaiser tracking polls have found, many of the ACA’s major provisions continue to be quite popular, including across party lines. For example, large shares of Americans – including at least seven in ten overall and at least six in ten Democrats, Republicans, and independents – have a favorable view of the fact that the law allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans up to age 26, closes the Medicare “doughnut hole” for prescription drug coverage, provides subsidies to low- and moderate-income Americans to help them purchase coverage, eliminates cost-sharing for preventive services, gives states the option of expanding Medicaid, and prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Nearly as many (including a majority across parties) have a favorable view of the “medical loss ratio” provision that requires insurance companies to give their customers a rebate if they spend too little money on services and too much on administration and profits. Somewhat more divisive is the law’s Medicare payroll tax on earnings for upper-income Americans, which is viewed favorably by about three-quarters of Democrats and just over half of independents, but just a third of Republicans.

The glaring exception to the popularity of individual provisions of the law is the requirement that nearly all Americans have health insurance or pay a fine, which is viewed unfavorably by roughly two-thirds of the public.

At the same time that the public reports having a favorable view of many of the component parts of the ACA, large shares remain unaware that the law actually does some of these things. A few of the law’s provisions are both popular and relatively well-known – for example, 71 percent are aware that the law extends dependent coverage up to age 26, and eight in ten have a favorable view of this provision. More than half are also aware of several other popular provisions, including the law’s subsidy assistance to low and moderate income individuals (63 percent), Medicaid expansion (60 percent), and the so-called “guaranteed issue” provision that prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage based on health status (54 percent). Yet, in each of these three cases, the share who are aware of the provision lags roughly 15 percentage points behind the share who view it favorably.

Two other popular provisions are even less well-known. Fewer than half (43 percent) are aware that the law eliminates out-of-pocket costs for preventive services, and just four in ten (40 percent, including 38 percent of seniors) know that it gradually closes the Medicare prescription drug “doughnut hole.” At the other end of the spectrum, the law’s least popular provision – the individual mandate – is widely recognized, with nearly eight in ten (78 percent) correctly answering that the ACA requires nearly all Americans to have health insurance or else pay a fine.

The “FAUX News effect”:

Misperceptions also persist about things the ACA does not actually do. For example, nearly half the public (46 percent) think the law allows undocumented immigrants to receive financial help from the government to buy health insurance, and another two in ten (22 percent) are unsure whether it does. A third of the public (34 percent, including 32 percent of seniors) believe the law establishes a government panel to make decisions about end-of-life care for people on Medicare, with another quarter saying they are unsure (23 percent of the public, 25 percent of seniors).

To conclude on a high note: “ObamaCare” fatigue may finally be settling in:

Perhaps reflecting this sense that the debate has gone on long enough, more of the public would like to see Congress keep the law in place and work to improve it (49 percent) or keep it as is (10 percent) rather than repeal it and replace it with a Republican-sponsored alternative (11 percent) or repeal it outright (18 percent).

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