Accessibility links


Washington Week: Renewed Focus on 'Obamacare'

  • Michael Bowman

The coming week will see renewed focus on President Barack Obama’s signature health care law amid a reported end-of-year surge in people who have signed up for coverage. The news constitutes the most concrete sign to date that technical problems plaguing the Affordable Care Act have subsided, although the long-term success of the program remains in question.

President Obama is on vacation in Hawaii, but the administration says more than one million people have now enrolled for private insurance through federal health care exchanges established under the law, also known as "Obamacare."

Almost all of the new enrollees have signed up in December. Millions visited the federal website last week ahead of a deadline for health care coverage beginning January 1.

The enrollment surge offers the first glimmer of hope that the technical glitches that paralyzed the Affordable Care Act’s rollout are a thing of the past. Until now, President Barack Obama has been on the defensive about the law’s implementation.

“The fact is, it did not happen in the first month, the first six weeks, in a way that was acceptable. And since I am in charge, obviously, we screwed it up,” Obama remarked.

Republicans continue to call for Obamacare’s repeal, contending that more Americans have had their existing health insurance policies cancelled than have benefitted from the law. Speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press, Democratic Senator Charles Schumer predicts the criticism will fade over time.

“The bottom line is, there are a lot of good things in Obamacare that people like, and the more people see that, the more positive it is going to be.”

A million enrollees is far short of the seven million goal the Obama administration set for the initial phase of the Affordable Care Act. And it remains to be seen whether large numbers of younger, healthier Americans will sign up for coverage. Without them, the economics of Obamacare will collapse.