* The Obama administration announced today that a total of 4.2 million people have now enrolled in Obamacare, after 942,000 signed up in February. Another 4.4 million have received approval to enroll in Medicaid. Jonathan Cohn has a balanced look at what this all does and doesn’t mean, and what we do and don’t know, including this:
Those figures remain shy of original, internal projections that HHS made. But that’s in good part the result of Obamacare’s early technical problems, with federal and many state sites effectively non-functional for October and part of November. The day-to-day, week-to-week pace of enrollment is now closer to what experts had predicted all along, though in February it lagged a bit.
Foes of the law are very excited because one quarter of the new signups are young, but as Cohn notes, it’s unclear how much of a factor that will be in terms of premiums. Click the link to see the sober take from Kaiser’s Larry Levitt.
* Noam Levey adds some more key context:
The new enrollment report confirms that the administration and its allies will probably fall short of the 7 million signs-ups they had hoped to get in 2014. The report also shows that health insurance sign-ups continued to recover in February from the disastrous launch of the federal HealthCare.gov website…based on the experience of other programs, officials expect the rate of sign-ups to accelerate between now and the March 31 deadline for enrolling in coverage this year.
Impartial experts agree that’s probably enough, from a policy perspective. Really, the national total doesn’t mean much — each state is its own marketplace that has to live or die independently. But getting close to 5 million enrollees nationally is a good indicator that each state has probably reached a critical mass.
The law has already cleared the threshold for basic survival, and from the White House’s perspective, that’s good enough for a year marred by the botched HealthCare.gov launch and a series of confusing delays. As long as premiums don’t skyrocket next year, the Affordable Care Act’s system of subsidized, regulated private coverage is likely to become an ingrained part of the U.S. health care system.
Obamacare is functional, but as for how it will fare over time, sorry folks: you’re just going to have to wait and see.
* The polls close for the special election in Florida’s 13th district at 7 p.m. I won’t be blogging the results here. Grand total spent thus far on this race: $12.7 million.
* You can track the results out of FL-13 right here on the Pinellas County web site.
* Sean Trende has a deep dive into why the FL-13 outcome really doesn’t matter all that much. Agreed.
* And don’t miss Jonathan Bernstein, who explains what really matters in House elections, and why this outcome will tell us nothing about Obamacare.
* Also, Ed Kilgore:
Emory University’s Alan Abramowitz has studied the relationship between special and regular congressional elections and concluded there’s really not one, so the predictive value of tonight’s results for November may be quite low. But that won’t keep people from making unwarranted predictions.
No, it won’t.
* Straight talk on the latest revelations of dishonesty in Americans for Prosperity’s Julie Boonstra ad from Jonathan Chait, who notes that she fell victim to “fears stoked by Republican operatives manipulating her tragedy in order to deny medical care to fellow sick people.”
* Senate Dems are still one Republican vote short in the push to renew unemployment benefits, as per this tweet from Harry Reid:
If we can get that one more GOP vote for #renewUI, we can move quickly. At this stage, we don’t have that assurance, but we’re working on it.
It’s been well over two months since the program was cut off just after Christmas.
* And one man’s journey from Politico reporter to shoe salesman. (link fixed)