(Bloomberg) -- About 7.3 million people have paid for their Obamacare coverage and remain enrolled in health insurance plans sold through new government-run markets, a top U.S. official said today.
That’s a 9 percent reduction from the government’s May estimate of 8 million, which reflected only how many people had signed up, not how many had paid and were enrolled in the coverage. The number has been long sought by Republican lawmakers who oppose the law.
The announcement, by Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, is the first time since then that the Obama administration has provided enrollment figures under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Seven million more people have signed up coverage through Medicaid, the U.S. health program for the poor.
Tavenner released the new figure at a hearing by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in Washington, where Republicans opposed to the health law peppered her with questions about the security of the government’s insurance website and the destruction of e-mails she wrote before the site opened for business.
“A new wave of evidence shows that the Affordable Care Act is working to make health-care coverage more affordable, accessible and of higher quality, for families, seniors, businesses and taxpayer alike,” Tavenner said in a statement prepared for the hearing.
While 8 million people selected health plans using the federal system and 14 state-run insurancemarkets, their enrollment wasn’t confirmed until they paid the first month’s premium to their insurer.Insurance companies including Aetna Inc. and WellPoint Inc. have previously said they’ve collected premiums from 80 percent to 90 percent of their Affordable Care Act customers.
Next year, Oregon and Nevada will no longer run their own enrollment sites and will join the federal system, Tavenner said today. Oregon’s online enrollment system never worked, requiring state officials to process tens of thousands of applications by hand. Nevada’s system didn’t work as well as officials expected. Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber is a Democrat. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval is a Republican.
The federal government provided $303 million to Oregon and $91 million to Nevada to help build their enrollment systems and websites, according to the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation of Menlo Park, California. Representative Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican, asked Tavenner whether the government would seek to recoup the money.
“We’re working with Oregon and other states,” she said. “That’s all I can say right now.”
Representative Darrell Issa of California, the chairman of the committee, criticized the security of the federal government’s enrollment website, healthcare.gov, and the Obama administration’s obfuscation of its problems, in opening remarks at the hearing.
“This administration has not complied with, nor caused their key executives including political appointees, to comply with the federal records act,” he said. Addressing Tavenner, he told her, “Your actions hinder Congress’ investigation and also prevent the public from accessing information under the Freedom of Information Act.”
Tavenner said the healthcare.gov site hadn’t had a major data security problem. “To date, there is no evidence that a person or group has maliciously accessed personally identifiable information from the site,” she said in a prepared statement.
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