Obamacare’s 6-Million Milestone

Photograph by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Insurance agents assist people with purchasing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act on March 20, 2014 in Miami.

Six million Americans have signed up for private health insurance plans under Obamacare, President Barack Obama said today, as Bloomberg’s Alex Wayne notes “a symbolic milestone for a government that has struggled to get the law off the ground.”

“Nearly four million people have visited healthcare.gov, the federal enrollment website, since Monday and hundreds of thousands of people have phoned government call centers in advance of the deadline, officials said. States running their own enrollment systems under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have reported a similar surge.”

And that long-noted March 31 deadline for having health insurance or paying a tax penalty has been extended for people attempting to sign up at exchanges in the closing days who haven’t completed the process.

All in all, the story today has a remarkably different angle to it than it did in the early days of October, when the president admitted to a “botched” roll-out  of the online exchanges at an overwhelmed Healthcare.gov.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, suggests that the issue won’t become the election-driving force that Republicans intent on appealing the president’s health-care law want it to be in the midterm congressional elections. Instead, Schumer says, the Democratic agenda of raising the minimum wage, making college more affordable and other income-equity matters will drive the elections.

With most Americans either covered by their employers’ health care or Medicare or Medicaid, he suggests, the debate over Obamacare involves relatively few people — and the Democrats can tout the benefits for those signing up, as well as the protections the law provides such as a ban on insurers dropping people with pre-existing conditions.

House Speaker John Boehner has vowed to repeal the 2010 health care law, scoffing at the announcement this week that the deadline for enrollment at Healthcare.gov has been extended. “What the hell is this, a joke?” the Ohio Republican asked.

Boehner wasn’t saying much about the announcement of the six million enrollees today.

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