January 16 2014

Six Million Covered by ObamaCare? Not So Fast

Patrice J. Lee

The Administration has been squirrelly about its ObamaCare enrollment targets and now is playing games about the actual overall enrollment numbers.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius blogged earlier this week that six million Americans now have healthcare coverage thanks to ObamaCare. However, that is a misleading attempt to paint  recruitment efforts in a better light than they should.

Nearly 2.2 million Americans signed up for private health insurance through the federal and state exchanges through the end of December. And 3.9 million people learned they are eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in October and November.

Combining both numbers is how the Administration arrives at the six million figure, but is that an inflated number? CNNMoney explains that it is:

The 3.9 million figure includes people who were already on Medicaid and are just renewing, as Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services noted in a blog post late last month. So not all of these folks have coverage due to Obamacare.

Still, other administration officials have touted the 6 million enrollment number and have not mentioned that some of these people were already in Medicaid. When Gene Sperling, the director of the National Economic Council, went on "Meet the Press" recently, he simply cited the 6 million figure without further explanation.

It's unclear how many people are newly eligible under Obamacare's Medicaid expansion provision. Tim Jost, a health law professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, thinks a good chunk of them were likely re-enrollments.

By using the 6 million figure, Jost believes the administration could give the wrong impression that these people were not covered before.

Perhaps you’ve picked up on a trend with the Administration when it comes to defining and describing categories. In this case they are counting Medicaid renewals as new enrollments. That’s like inflating your reported salary on a job application by counting the money in your savings account along with your most recent salary. The number looks good on paper, but is a gross overstatement.

The Administration further inflates the numbers by choosing to define enrollment as anyone who has merely selected a plan. And as thousands of Americans are learning to their detriment, this leaves them uncovered in everything but numbers helpful to the Administration.

Character and integrity are qualities we teach our children and expect from employees and love interests. We also expect elected officials to model those virtues, setting an example for the public and engendering trust in the work that they do for us. Sadly, this Administration is earning a failing grade for both qualities.

 

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