Sunday, March 1, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Health care enrollment numbers of dubious consequence

By
From page A8 | April 07, 2014 |

It was a notable past week for the Obama administration.

In the waning hours of March 31 – the “official” deadline for open enrollment – the White House released a big number: 7.1 million Americans had selected a private health insurance plan through the new health insurance marketplace created by the health-care law.

This was no small feat for an administration that has spent the last several months moving the goal posts.

So it was understandable when on Tuesday afternoon, a visibly relieved President Barack Obama took what even the law’s detractors might concede was a deserved opportunity to spike the football.

But the euphoric declarations from the Rose Garden were vaguely reminiscent of President George W. Bush’s ill-fated and imprudent “Mission Accomplished” speech given after the U.S. toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein: premature and out of context.

Kind of like a touchdown dance after a field goal.

The 7.1 million figure, which the president says is “on top of the more than 3 million young adults who have gained insurance under this law by staying on their family’s plan . . .  (and) millions more who have gained access through Medicaid expansion and the Children’s Health Insurance Program,” is of dubious consequence.

Not to mention that the curious release of such a precise number after months of insisting that exact enrollment figures were unavailable is cause enough for suspicion. As The Wall Street Journal editorialized, “Regardless of your partisan sympathies, the White House’s selective disclosure is a crime against transparency and accountable government.”

The figure itself caused National Journal’s Ron Fournier to ask: “What are the real numbers? . . .  We won’t know for weeks whether the administration accomplished its goal of adding 7 million people to the insurance rolls, including a plurality of healthy young adults. The numbers announced Tuesday, while impressive, are incomplete and misleading.”

And while the Los Angeles Times reported that a mysteriously still-unpublished survey by the RAND Corp. estimates a total of 9.5 million previously uninsured people having gained coverage under the new law (through private insurance, Medicaid expansion and young adults through a parent’s plan), only a third of those who signed up in the exchanges are newly insured, and just half have actually paid their premiums, a necessary component of obtaining coverage.

Then there is the question of how many people who have signed up for insurance will stay insured by consistently paying their premiums, which are expected to rise in 2015.

Further calling into question the credibility of any health-care-related numbers, Bloomberg columnist Megan McArdle points out the last-minute enrollment surge – an “amazingly powerful testament to the American powers of procrastination” – has probably “blown to hell” all the enrollment data anyway.

Hmmm.

Even if we are to stipulate that millions more Americans have obtained coverage, the reported number of newly insured Americans is still a fraction of the number Obama initially claimed he wanted to cover (30 million) and well below the expected reduction in the percentage of uninsured Americans the Congressional Budget Office had originally projected.

To millions of disillusioned Americans, the only number that matters is that following the dollar sign on their insurance bill, which has remained stubbornly high, and for many conjures memories of the president’s trifecta of broken promises – you can keep your plan, you can keep your doctors, your premiums will go down.

Based on current data, however it shakes out, it’s unlikely that the president’s signature law will be a spectacular failure – no death spiral has yet materialized – but it’s just as unlikely to be a spectacular success. If it were, Democrats up for re-election in November would not continue to keep their distance, carefully parsing their words of praise and interlacing statements with concessions that repair is still needed.

But repair is unlikely to come in Washington while, as Fournier puts it, “the win-at-all-cost mentality (that) helped create a culture in which a partisan-line vote was deemed sufficient for passing transcendent legislation,” remains unchallenged.

And so for the president as for Congress, the next Obamacare-related numbers of significance will come at the polls this November.

Cynthia M. Allen is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may send her email at [email protected].

Cynthia M. Allen

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Peace and patience: Quilters gear up for show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1Comments are off for this post

 
School bands compete in Pageantry on Parade

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Calling someone a ‘smoker’ is hilarious

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

 
Conservancy plans next Quail Ridge Reserve walk

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Police seek suspect in armed robbery

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3, 3 Comments

4-H Presentation Day brings fun, education to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
The agony of the codling moth, ecstasy of worm-free apples

By Christine Macgenn | From Page: C4

What you eat can affect your medications

By Marilyn Ranson | From Page: C4

 
Rollover in Suisun City

By Aaron Rosenblatt | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
State schedules ramp closure at freeway project site

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
Appointments on tap for Board of Supervisors meet

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Tri-City NAACP honors community members at gala event

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
CAASC 18th Annual Chinese New Year and Scholarship Celebration

By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
NY, SF town house prices through the roof

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
Fairfield police log: Feb. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Feb. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Airmen with local ties finish basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Force draws many from South, middle class

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Christie to Calif. Republicans: No rush to pick 2016 nominee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US missionary abducted in Nigeria is courageous, friends say

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Dress that ‘greatly resembles’ stolen Nyong’o gown found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Weekend storm drops snow, rain, hail in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Churches, synagogues, mosques bear tough New England winter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Hyundai recalls 263,000 cars due to power-steering problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Blind dog rescued after being lost for 2 weeks in the cold

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Details about proposed national monuments in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
National monument supporters in California get antsy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Greece will not seek another bailout, prime minister says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Attacks kill 37 people in and north of Iraq’s capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

US drone strike in Yemen kills 3 suspected al-Qaida fighters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Nemtsov a possible ‘sacrificial victim,’ investigators say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: March 1, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for March 1, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
New school funding plan remains on bumpy path

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Even Gruber deserves a break sometimes

By Megan Mcardle | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
I might just vote for a Democrat next time around

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 8 Comments

Aging Fairfield housing agency faltering

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 1, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

With numbers falling, Houston-area nuns’ future uncertain

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Horoscopes: March 1, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

Kidney Walk participation helped give me a positive outlook on life

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

Take a look – Dr. Seuss has a new book

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Publisher launches line of Warhol e-books

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Q&A: Opera star Deborah Voigt writes of turbulent life

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2Comments are off for this post

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Review: ‘The Girl on the Train’ has realistic plot

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2Comments are off for this post

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Vikings girls looking for first section title

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Local Report: Vaca’s Aquino wins Masters wrestling title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

Phegley hopes his style will catch on in Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
A year after meeting Tiger, Indian golfer on the rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Jeff Gordon takes a final spin at track that meant so much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Defending champ Federer beats Djokovic to retain Dubai title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Safarova beats Azarenka to win the Qatar Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Environmental activists disrupt meeting by Olympic officials

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Hamilton hones Mercedes with fastest time at F1 testing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Thunder’s Russell Westbrook has surgery on cheekbone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Anthony Mason, rugged forward of 1990s Knicks, dies at 48

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Warriors center Festus Ezeli suspended for a game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Reichelt leads Austrian World Cup downhill sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Players’ union head: future spring games in Cuba possible

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Harrington takes 36-hole lead, then more rain in Florida

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Harvick wins Xfinity race at Atlanta for 3rd year in a row

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Stolen No. 44 NASCAR race car found in suburban Atlanta

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

For many in US, cash saved at gas pump is staying in pockets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Fruits and vegetables get a star-studded marketing push

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Nevada casinos keep $953.7 million in winnings in January

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Historic snows causing headaches for real estate industry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Recalls this week: hand trucks, ceiling fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Review: Freedom! These smartwatches leave the phone behind

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Greek prime minister rules out third bailout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Boy, 13, builds Braille printer with Legos, starts company

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9Comments are off for this post

AP Exclusive: Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 a year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Thomas Browning

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Leah E. Hoffman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Jacqueline Mendes

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Lester Singer

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

John W. Van Wart

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Virgil Albert Hanson

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics