As The Hill's Jonathan Easley reports:
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is expected to release data later this month showing a “surge” in enrollees in the federal and state healthcare exchanges for November.
The numbers are expected to surpass the paltry figures for October, when enrollments were hampered by an erratic HealthCare.gov website plagued by outages and error messages…
Even with the jump, the administration appears well behind its original goal of having 800,000 people signed up through the state and federal exchanges in the first two months. Still, the figures could be a sign the rollout finally has some positive momentum after a catastrophic launch.
Bloomberg reported on Monday that the HHS will say 100,000 people selected plans through the federal exchanges in November, a nearly four-fold increase over the almost 27,000 that signed up in the first month of its operation.
The Pueblo Chieftain's Loretta Sword updated numbers for Colorado over the holiday weekend:
More than 71,000 Coloradans have created accounts on Connect for Health Colorado, the state marketplace for insurance coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare.
The initial rollout of the online health insurance marketplaces, both federal and to a lesser extent in Colorado, were marred by disastrous and in most cases preventable errors. Here in Colorado, many of the functions to calculate available subsidies for health insurance buyers weren't available when the site rolled out on October 1st. A larger and more fundamental problem was discovered in the process flow for new signups to Colorado's health insurance exchange, which has seen thousands of applications stall while awaiting denial for Medicaid coverage. Slowly but surely, the weeks-long story of epic failure is being edged out by newer stories of success–halting, still far below expectations set before the beginning of October, but enough to provide hope that the situation will be brought under control in time to work.
Ever since the passage of the Affordable Care Act over three years ago, Democrats have banked on the promise that at some point, the law would begin providing tangible and undeniable benefits to the public. The answer from Democrats to the hysterical, exaggerated claims from Republicans about the effects of Obamacare was simply going to be a system that voters could see with their own eyes was working.
Needless to say, the last few weeks of highly public dysfunction, at the exact moment a functioning new system was supposed to be reassuring the public, put a giant hole in the plan. When you consider the horrible political situation Republicans were in at the end of the October government shutdown, Obamacare's website catastrophe was the best thing that could have possibly happened for the GOP. The reversal of political fortunes in such a short time was enough to induce whiplash.
But today, it's looking more like delayed political payoff for Democrats from Obamacare, not destruction. For all the self-inflicted damage caused by websites that weren't ready for prime time, if the public's confidence can be restored in the system by seeing it work, even belatedly, that's a win for Democrats. In fact, the startup problems might even work to the long term advantage of Democrats, by lowering expectations which can then be met or exceeded.
The fact is, Democrats still have the upper hand in a debate over something that most everyone agrees is necessary. Unforced errors have extended the pain, but the ultimate goal hasn't changed. Even in the ugliest recent polling on health care reform, voters don't want it repealed–they want it to work. That's an advantage no amount of disparagement can overcome.