Biden Acknowledges Obamacare Enrollments Might Fall Significantly Short Of Target

by AP

alt

Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington on Feb. 18, 2014. (credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden said Wednesday that it would be a good start for the federal health care law if 5 million to 6 million people sign up by the end of March, an acknowledgement that enrollments might fall significantly short of the Obama administration’s unofficial target of 7 million.

Biden, who was attending a private fundraiser in Minneapolis, made a brief unannounced stop at a coffee shop and visited with a handful of women who have signed up for coverage. Open enrollment under the federal law ends on March 31, after which people without insurance are subject to federal tax penalties.

Biden acknowledged the rocky rollout of the administration’s Affordable Care Act website and the difficulty people have had in signing up. Minnesota has been among the numerous states, along with the federal Healthcare.gov site, to experience rampant technical problems that hampered enrollment.

“We didn’t want this to start off as shaky as it did,” he said. “But it’s complicated.”

Before the exchanges launched, the Obama administration projected monthly enrollment targets based on a congressional estimate that 7 million would sign up during the six-month open enrollment period. Signing up enough individuals — especially younger, healthier people — is critical for the insurance pool at the heart of the law to function properly, keeping premiums low for everyone.

Immediately, enrollment figures starting falling behind the targets. Although the pace of sign-ups has picked up substantially, there’s still a lot of catching up to do from the initial months. About 1 million enrolled in January — the first time the administration met its monthly target.

Biden acknowledged that “we may not get to 7 million, but if we get to 5 or 6 million that’s a hell of a start.” In total, nearly 3.3 million had enrolled through the end of January. That’s about 75 percent of what the administration had hoped to achieve by that point in the open enrollment period.

Biden’s office said the four women picked to meet with Biden either signed up for insurance under the federal law, or have worked as a navigator assisting others in the signup process. In the brief conversation, Biden related several health crises in his own life, including a serious car accident and a brain aneurysm, saying he appreciated the sense of security knowing he could count on his insurance.

Dressed in a dark suit with a dark scarf around his neck, Biden briefly worked the room at Moose and Sadie’s, located in a trendy urban neighborhood near downtown Minneapolis. His voice was hoarse, and he was difficult to hear over the coffee shop’s din. He did speak up when he spotted a woman with a San Francisco Giants cap.

“They allow you to wear that in Minnesota?” he said.

Biden was attending a private Democratic Party fundraiser at the restaurant Bachelor Farmer. Owned by the sons of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton, the restaurant hosted a dinner for President Barack Obama in 2012.



More Local

250 students affected

Homelessness ‘vicious cycle that’s going to continue’

The economy has bounced back from the lows of a few years ago. The housing market is healthy, and the jobless rate has improved. But, for so ... Read More


Annual Sunrise on the Square Road Race a success

The annual Sunrise on the Square included ideal weather and a first-time winner who actually pushed his baby in a stroller. The race, hosted ... Read More


HealthSouth facility scheduled to open Dec. 2

Progress for HealthSouth’s new facility is on track for a Dec. 2 opening, which will add to the town’s growing collection of hea ... Read More


Subsidized medical center proposed for Senoia

Palmetto Health Council is applying for a grant to bring a subsidized medical clinic to Coweta, proposed for the Senoia area. The non-profit ... Read More


Economic Impact

Ports hit new record

The Georgia Ports Authority moved more than 3 million 20-foot equivalent container units in fiscal year 2014 – and set a new record fo ... Read More

Maternity home on zoning board’s agenda

Decisions on a proposed “maternity home” for pregnant teens, expanded outdoor seating for a proposed downtown restaurant, and al ... Read More