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

Suspected gang affiliation

Four men arrested after shots fired

Four men believed to be members of a local gang were arrested by Newnan Police officers following a shooting late Wednesday. There was nobod ... Read More


EC, Northgate among nation’s challenging schools

Two Coweta County high schools, East Coweta and Northgate, were recognized as two of “America’s Most Challenging High Schools,&r ... Read More


Main Street Newnan Road Race

Are you ready for Sunrise on the Square?

Dust off those running shoes. Main Street Newnan is continuing its Labor Day weekend traditions with the annual Mike Fitzpatrick Ford Sunris ... Read More


Canongate Elementary welcomes new principal

By Celia Shortt celia@newnan.com Betty Robinson was recently named Canongate Elementary School’s new principal. “It has been suc ... Read More


Scene from ‘Divergent’ sequel filmed in Coweta

A scene for the movie “Insurgent” – the second film in the “Divergent” series, was filmed Thursday in a pastur ... Read More

Main Street Newnan recognized by Gov. Deal

Main Street Newnan has received two Georgia Downtown Conference Awards of Excellence, highlighting the city department’s work in econo ... Read More