On Obamacare’s Last Sign Up Day, Fate of Health Care Law Remains Uncertain
by Maggie Fox www.nbcnews.com
It's the last open enrollment day for Obamacare, and the six-year-old health care reform law has never been more popular.
And it's never been more doomed, although Republicans are still arguing over how and when to replace it — and whether to just tweak the Affordable Care Act and rename it, or completely repeal it and start over again from scratch.
This time last year, there was a huge last-ditch effort from the Obama administration to get people signed up in time to be covered for 2016 without paying an extra tax. This year, the Trump administration is virtually silent, with only the occasional post on social media and a broad cutback in pre-paid advertising.
Yet polls show the Affordable Care Act and its goals of getting health insurance and better health care to more people is growing in popularity as people come to understand they may be about to lose it.
The 2010 law got about 20 million more people covered by some form of health insurance. Fewer than 10 percent of Americans — about 28 million people — now have no health insurance.
A poll last week from the Associated Press and NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that 56 percent of U.S. adults were "extremely" or "very" concerned that many will lose health insurance if there is a repeal.
And the poll found 53 percent want to keep the law in some form. That's even more than an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll taken the week before that found 45 percent believe the ACA is a good idea. That poll found that 50 percent of those surveyed have little to no confidence that Republican proposals to replace the law will make things better.
“The last four weeks have presented a lot of opportunity for confusion.”
Private healthcare advocacy groups such as Enroll America say they've seen a surge of interest. "The last official numbers we received were from the former administration and that suggested that this year's enrollment is outpacing last year's," said Enroll America's Jennifer Sullivan.
But callers and people signing up in person are also asking a lot of questions.
"The last four weeks have presented a lot of opportunity for confusion," Sullivan told NBC News.
People have heard about a vote in Congress making it possible to partly repeal the ACA, she said, and they are worried they'll have the rug pulled out from under them if they carry private health insurance bought through the exchanges.
Leaked audio from a closed-door Republican meeting in Philadelphia obtained by the Washington Post last week revealed that GOP lawmakers are divided on how to proceed with their promise to "repeal and replace" the ACA. Republicans expressed concerns about messing with popular aspects of the law, such as provisions that stop insurance companies from turning away people who are too sick, capping coverage and letting adult children remain on their parents' health insurance until age 26.
But the individual mandate — the requirement that people have insurance or pay a tax — is almost certain to go. And there is much discussion of changing the way Medicaid, the joint state-federal health insurance program for low-income and disabled people, is paid for and managed.
The uncertainty is making insurance companies, hospitals, doctors and health policy analysts nervous.==============================================================
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