To claim 7 million Obamacare enrollees, the government just changed its own rules

Initially, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that health insurance plans associated with the Affordable Care Act would attract at least 7 million enrollees. After a number of problems with state and federal enrollment websites surfaced in late 2013, the CBO amended its projection down to 6 million.

When the ACA reportedly reached 8 million enrollees after repeatedly extending the deadline for the close of open enrollment in the spring of 2014, the left celebrated.

“Eight million people have signed up for private insurance plans through the new federal and state marketplaces. And within the federal marketplaces, 28 percent of enrollees are ages 18 to 34,” The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohen crowed. “This is good news—very, very good news.”

“Given where the law started in October, that is utterly insane,” a flabbergasted Ezra Klein wrote.

“Obamacare hit its enrollment target because it was selling something that at least 8 million people wanted: affordable health insurance,” Vox’s self-satisfied Sarah Kliff concurred.

They were far less ebullient about the Affordable Care Act’s enrollment figures when they were revised down significantly from over 8 million to just 7.1 million in October. Just days later, the CBO announced another downward revision of 2015’s expected new enrollees from just under an additional 6 million this year to fewer than 3 million.

Today, the cheerleaders at the nation’s leading liberal publications were again disappointed to learn that the administration had deceived them into reporting that the Affordable Care Act had reached even that revised enrollment goal

“The Obama administration included as many as 400,000 dental plans in a number it reported for enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, an unpublicized detail that helped surpass a goal for 7 million sign-ups,” Bloomberg reported on Thursday. “Without the dental plans, the federal government would have had 6.97 million people with medical insurance under the law known as Obamacare, investigators for the House Oversight and Government Reform committee calculated, using data they obtained from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”

Federal officials said in September they had 7.3 million people enrolled in coverage through new government-run insurance exchanges. They didn’t distinguish between medical and dental plans, breaking from previous practice without notice.

Blending dental and medical plans let the administration assert that enrollment remained greater than 7 million, the original projection of the Congressional Budget Office. The move also partly obscured the attrition of more than 1 million in the number of people enrolled in medical insurance.

The administration had supplied information about dental plans separately in earlier disclosures. In May, the government reported that 8 million were signed up for health plans and 1.1 million were in dental coverage.

Contrary to the claims of Health and Human Services Sec. Sylvia Burwell, who told NBC’s Chuck Todd that she was “focused on transparency,” Bloomberg reported that even Medicaid’s enrollment figures have become “less transparent” since September.

This betrayal has not gone unnoticed by the health care reform law’s most persistent defenders:

Those on the left who are more predisposed to offer honest appraisals of the relative success of the Affordable Care Act are far less artificially sanguine about its future prospects. In this small circle, a Brookings Institution study which found that Obamacare will have a negative effect on the incomes of eight-tenths of the American public is inspiring fits of depression.


“Obviously there’s more to this, and Gardner discusses some of the other electoral implications of Obamacare in his post,” Mother Jones columnist Kevin Drum concluded in a post addressing this condition. “But the bottom line is simple: like most of the social welfare programs championed by Democrats, Obamacare is primarily aimed at the poor. Once again, the working and middle classes are left on the outside looking in.”

The Affordable Care Act’s persistent unpopularity is due not to a communications failure on the part of the administration, as the credulous left comforts itself, but due entirely to its real effects on the public and the scaffolding of lies which have up to now kept the law from imploding. Those structures erected to keep this law from collapsing are starting to fail.