In a report released Wednesday, data showed that more than 1 million people signed up for private health insurance in January. This raises the number of total enrollees in the insurance exchanges to 3.3 million. The surge in enrollment is good news for the Obama administration’s goal of 7 million enrollments by the end of March.
The exchanges were opened in October as part of the Affordable Care Act, commonly dubbed “Obamacare.”
Some argue that the numbers are inflated. Insurance analysts argue that many newcomers to the exchanges may have enrolled but have not yet paid premiums into the system and should not be counted.
“The numbers are not as high as 3.3 million -- it’s lower,” one senior insurance industry source told Fox News. “Those numbers are inflated. The question is how much.”
Inflated or not, many question why the new numbers are not being touted by the president as a huge success.
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama’s only public appearance was to sign an executive order raising the minimum wage for federal workers. There was no mention of the seemingly positive healthcare report.
The reason, some say, is that the negative impact of the infamously botched rollout of the healthcare exchanges and the website HealthCare.gov will hurt Democratic incumbents in Congress during the 2014 midterm elections. Therefore, Democrats are distancing themselves from any mention of the Affordable Care Act and the Obama administration is seeking to provide them cover by keeping quiet on the issue as well.
“Really, it’s more ammo for the primary opponents in the Democratic Party,” Republican Party strategist Ford O’Connell said.
Democratic incumbents may still face stout opposition from Republicans in hotly contested states. In Florida, Rep. Joe Garcia, Democrat, is running not as a proponent of the Affordable Care Act but as a legislator willing to fight the insurance companies to fix it. His campaign is being helped partially by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Political Action Committee. Such a move signals that many key Democrats are circling the wagons, preparing for a fight in 2014.
The controversial legislation has been Obama’s centerpiece domestic legislation, but it has struggled to gain popularity. The law is blamed for costing Democrats the majority in the House of Representatives in 2010, and support for it is still below 50 percent in most polls.