[UPDATE BELOW] Obamacare's launch has been rough sledding: the White House announced yesterday that fewer than 27,000 people have signed up for the Affordable Care Act through the federal website, and now even House Democrats are lashing out about against that provision that's been kicking some Americans off their current insurance plans. On the bright side, though, Obama might fix some of the broken stuff soon.
Though the Obama Administration had predicted about 500,000 Americans would sign up for the program through the ever-malfunctioning healthcare.gov website in the first month of the rollout, yesterday the White House confirmed those numbers fell seriously short. Only 26,794 people in a combined 36 states signed up for Obamacare in October, which is...not great.
Not that the administration isn't keeping its chin up: “We expect enrollment will grow substantially throughout the next five months,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement yesterday. "Even with the issues we’ve had, the marketplace is working and people are enrolling."
On top of the weak enrollment numbers, the Affordable Care Act's been getting slammed for a provision in the law that's been causing those who sign up for the program to lose their current insurance policies, even though Obama had repeatedly promised that Americans could keep on their preferred policies if they wanted to. Naturally, Republicans have been all up in arms about this, but now even Democrats are rebelling against the provision; a number of House Democrats say they support a GOP-sponsored bill coming to a vote on Friday that would permit Americans to keep their health insurance coverage despite the Affordable Care Act.
The White House opposes the bill, maintaining that it would undermine the strength of the act, and House Dems had a closed-door meeting with administration officials yesterday to discuss the vote. "I’m frustrated in how it rolled out, and I let them know in no uncertain terms,” Pennsylvania Representative Mike Doyle, a Democrat, told the Times. “The point I was making in caucus to the administration is don’t give us this techno-babble that you’re going to do some administrative fix down the road. There’s a bill being put on the floor on Friday.”
Obama isn't ignoring Obamacare's flaws, though, and he's expected to announce a tweak to the health care act that would help Americans keep their current policies later today.
Update 1:18 p.m.: Obama announced this afternoon that he will be amending the Affordable Care Act to allow Americans who have had their health insurance policies canceled to keep those policies for a year. The changes will hopefully mitigate problems faced by the hundreds of thousands of Americans who got bumped from their insurance carriers since Obamacare's rollout.
"This fix won’t solve every problem for every person, but it is going to help of lot of people," Obama said, noting, "We fumbled the rollout on this health care law. That's on me."