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

Concerns over drug prompt delay of Georgia woman's execution

JACKSON, Ga. (AP) — Citing concerns about the drug to be used in a lethal injection, corrections officials in Georgia postponed the ex ... Read More


10 Things to Know for Today

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today: 1. NETANYAHU SET FOR CONGRESS SPEECH ... Read More


Programs reflect growing diversity in schools

Coweta County – like the rest of Georgia – is growing more diverse, and that is reflected in programs being held in the county&r ... Read More


Eye-catching billboard may help catch killer

When travelling on Interstate 85 north through Fairburn, many motorists have taken notice of Donna “Denice" Roberts’ face on a l ... Read More


Acceptance starts with liking one’s self

“Diversity – it starts with you.” That was the message that keynote speaker Nick Ferrante brought to the Diversity Day pro ... Read More

Tradition dates to 1422 in England

Bankruptcy Inn of Court named to honor Drake

The recently formed Georgia Bankruptcy American Inn of Court has been named for W. Homer Drake Jr. of Newnan. Drake is U.S. Bankruptcy Court ... Read More