Sunday, March 30, 2014

Maine Senator disputes GOP contention that majority of Obamacare enrollees already had insurance

Posted By on Sun, Mar 30, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Tomorrow was the (former) drop-dead date for all Americans to be enrolled in a healthcare plan or face a financial penalty via the IRS, though last week President Obama delayed the individual mandate until mid-April for those who can check off a box on HealthCare.gov indicating that they tried to enroll by March 31.

There has been a surge of people enrolling onto Obamacare, and on Fox News Sunday, Maine Independent Senator Angus King, who frequently caucuses with the Democrats, told host Chris Wallace that the sign-up total had risen to 6.5 million, and that the enrollees were skewing younger by the day.

WALLACE: If I can just ask you, though, what about the number that are uninsured, which seems to be about a quarter and what about the number of — that haven't paid, which is also about a quarter?

KING: Well, that's — the McKenzie (ph) and company did that 25 percent uninsured. The only real numbers we have are from New York and Kentucky and Kentucky at 75 percent of the people signing up were previously uninsured. In New York, 59 percent. So, those numbers are going to sort themselves out over time. But, you know, there is no denying it. They're probably going to make that 7 million target, which was set, you know, a couple of years ago. Nobody two months ago if you'd asked me I would have just said there's no chance because the rollout was so bungled.

King was citing a CNBC report last week citing the numbers from Kentucky and New York, which belie the mantra espoused by Republicans that the majority of those who have signed up for the healthcare plan already had previous insurance but had been kicked off their plan by their previous insurer.

As CNBC reported, neither the federal government nor any of the other states that operate their own exchanges require Obamacare applicants to disclose their current insurance status. So the numbers from Kentucky and New York are the only states where that information is verifiable.

While King was advocating for the benefits of the ACA, Wyoming GOP Senator Mike Barrasso generated headlines by claiming that the White House had "cooked the books" on the number of people enrolling for the Affordable Care Act.

"I think they're cooking the books on this," Barrasso told Wallace about the 6.5 million figure announced by the White House on Friday of people who have signed up for Obamacare."People want to know the answers to that. They also want to know once all of this is said and done, what kind of insurance will those people actually have? Will they be able to keep the doctors that they want? How much more is it going to cost them? And we know that some of the best cancer hospitals in the country want very little to do with people that actually buy this insurance on the ObamaCare exchanges."

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