Posted: 4:57 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, 2013
By Jenny Gold
Democrats in states running their own exchanges are seeking to put a more positive spin on the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, despite the mostly negative news coming out of Washington.
“What we’re seeing is incredible momentum,” Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said during a conference call for reporters held by Families USA on Monday. “We need to remind everyone that one-third of Americans are enrolling in state exchanges,” he added. “We’re showing that [the ACA] can and is working for Americans.”
Kevin Counihan, who runs the Connecticut exchange, Access Health CT, added that 23 percent of enrollees in the state are in the coveted under-age 35 demographic, a group experts say exchanges need to sign up in order to keep premiums affordable.
In Oregon, Amy Fauver, chief communications officer of Cover Oregon, reported that the state has cut its uninsured rate by 10 percent in the past six weeks by offering easy Medicaid enrollment to Oregonians who are already receiving other state benefits, such as food stamps.
“It augers well for the overall implementation of the ACA,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.
Nonetheless, the troubled rollout of the federal exchange is taking its toll, even in states where the websites have worked fairly well. ”We’ve had enrollment reduced by the drumbeat of information that websites don’t work,” said Lee, who says that many consumers hear the news about technical snags with healthcare.gov and mistakenly assume that the problems extend to the California exchange. He added that the state is shifting its advertising tactics, focusing on a message that the website is working fine, rather than the affordability of plans.
Counihan added that some Connecticut consumers have voiced concerns that their tax credits might not go through because of problems with the federal marketplaces, leaving them with the full cost of a health plan even if they qualify for a subsidy.
Separately, the Democratic governors of Washington, Kentucky and Connecticut co-wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on Sunday titled “How We Got Obamacare To Work,” touting the enrollment successes they’ve had in their respective states, all of which are running their own exchange.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communications organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.