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How the administration could miss a CBO Obamacare target

(Photo by Mike Segar /Reuters)

The big health care news this morning – besides renewed troubles with – was a report from the L.A. Times that 9.5 million people had been newly insured under the health care law. The Times report came from several sources, including unpublished Rand Corp. data.

If that holds up, that means the administration could miss a Congressional Budget Office target that’s received less attention. The CBO and Joint Congressional Committee on Taxation in February projected that 13 million previously uninsured people would gain coverage in 2014.

The large media focus in the first Obamacare enrollment period has been on whether the administration would hit CBO targets for exchange enrollment. The CBO has said it expects 6 million people to enroll through exchanges in 2014 - more than 6 million have signed up, so that target looks in reach if enough people pay their premiums.

But about one-third of those exchange signups were previously uninsured people, according to the report findings. It also found about 4.5 million adults had newly enrolled in Medicaid; 9 million people, most who were previously insured, have signed up for individual plans off the exchanges; and fewer than 1 million people who had their coverage cancelled remain uninsured.

Rand economist Kather thine Carman came up withe findings by tracking 2,600 people ages 18 to 65 since September, asking for their attitudes on the Affordable Care Act as well as their insurance status each month. Carman hopes to release the full survey data within the week.

“This is survey data,” Carman said. “It’s not going to give you a full picture. It’s based on a sample obviously.”

If the Rand projections are right, it means the law could be making a smaller dent in the uninsured than expected. Medicaid enrollment does go through the entire year, and the CBO estimate is based on the annual average. So, it will take some more time to truly know.



Jason Millman covers all things health policy, with a focus on Obamacare implementation. He previously covered health policy for Politico.



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