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The Northeast and the West are leading on Obamacare, in their own ways

The Northeast is enrolling people in Obamacare plans at higher rates than any other region, according to data released this week. But a separate report finds that states in the West are furthest along at implementing the new law.

The Northeast is home to the three states with the highest rates of enrollment, at least among people who are eligible to enroll, as mapped above. Vermont is the far-and-away leader with 54 percent of the eligible population enrolled in a plan, according to Health and Human Services Department data crunched by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In Rhode Island and Connecticut, 27 percent are enrolled. Maine has the seventh highest enrollment rate at 21 percent. Rates are lowest in the Midwest, where just under 11 percent are enrolled. More than 12 percent are enrolled in the South,and the West is home to an average state enrollment rate of nearly 14 percent.

But the West claims another distinction: it’s furthest ahead in setting up insurance exchanges and expanding Medicaid coverage, according to a report. Of the 13 states in the region, Alaska, Idaho and Montana are not expanding Medicaid despite the first few years of aid to low-income individuals being covered by the federal government. Utah is pursuing an alternative expansion plan.

The report, written for the State University of New York Rockefeller Institute by Arizona State University Professor John Stuart Hall, focused only on the first month of implementation.

[O]ur research on Western states in the first month of formal implementation reveals that some degree of genuine agreement on ACA and state goals for health reform have been reached among various political, staff, and nongovernmental players.

This may rest, in part, on a Western political culture that stresses independence, innovation, self-reliance, local control, pragmatism, populist views of equity and public involvement, and many tools of progressivism, including instruments of direct democracy and nonpartisan elections.

Thursday’s inaugural report left out a few states: Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Wyoming. Another, Utah, was left out, too, though a report is forthcoming.


Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.



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