President Obama announced Thursday that eight million people have signed up for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. That number beats the administration’s original goal by one million enrollees. It is also the third piece of good news for the embattled healthcare law, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, to come out this month.
The president hailed the new numbers as a victory.
“This thing is working,” he told reporters in the White House press briefing room, according to the New York Times. “The Affordable Care Act is covering more people at less cost than most people would have predicted a few months ago.”
That announcement referenced a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO). Time magazine reported earlier this week that the CBO expected Obamacare to cost $104 billion less over the next decade than it had previously expected.
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That news followed the announcement from the first of the month that the administration had met its 7-million-enrollee goal in the private healthcare exchanges by the March 31 deadline.
That is all good news for congressional Democrats who are facing stiff opposition in midterm elections later this year. Republicans have been planning for months to use the troubled healthcare rollout against their opponents. The chance to do so may be slipping away with each positive announcement.
"I find it strange that the Republican position on this law is still stuck in the same place that is has always been. They still can't bring themselves to admit that the Affordable Care Act is working," the president was quoted as saying in a Huffington Post story.
Republicans have previously argued that it is unclear whether the enrollment numbers, touted by the White House, are new enrollments or if they are simply enrollments by people who had lost their previous plans under the new laws.
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Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., said the new announcement was just the president continuing to “obscure the full impact of Obamacare.”
Nevertheless, having the president be the first to make the recent announcement suggests that the administration is willing to meet Republicans head-on in a debate over Obamacare.
“We’ve got a sizable part of the U.S. population, for the first time, that are in a position to enjoy the financial security of health insurance,” the president said.
That will be a powerful message for Democrats to carry into the midterm elections.