Party at the White House (Nope, not with Beyonce’ this time)..
When President Obama and Vice President Biden weren’t taking selfies and joining Instagram this week, they were meeting with state insurance commissioners and health insurance industry executives. While those who attended have kept their lips tightly sealed as to what was discussed in the meetings, we did learn a few details.
The first meeting occurred on Thursday morning, when over 44 state insurance commissioners and CEO of the NAIC, Senator Ben Nelson, met with President Obama, Vice President Biden and other senior administration officials; including HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Senior Adviser Valerie Jarrett, Health Policy Adviser Phil Schiliro and CCIIO Acting Director Mandy Cohen. They discussed the recent end of open enrollment and gave suggestions to prepare for the 2015 open enrollment period. After the meeting, the NAIC issued a press release, stating that the meeting “was an opportunity for regulators to discuss ongoing challenges they see in their markets and coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the administration to find solutions. State regulators expressed concern about the lack of insurance regulatory expertise at CMS with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ impending departure and recommended that the appointment of a permanent director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) be made quickly. Furthermore, the commissioners urged that the new director rely on the expertise of state insurance regulators as decisions are made.” By the end of the meeting, the commissioners were not able to report on enrollment numbers or the age breakdown of those enrolled. That information was announced by President Obama later in the day.
Following their meeting with the state insurance commissioners, President Obama, Vice President Biden and other top senior administration officials went into a two-hour meeting with some health insurance industry executives; including Daniel Hilferty, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of AHIP, Scott Serota, president and CEO of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Joe Swedish, CEO of WellPoint and Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, just to name a few. While many of these top executives have been very vocal about the details of their high-level meetings in the past, they kept quiet after their meeting on Thursday. The White House, in a statement, clarified that President Obama told insurer executives that the Administration fully intends on continuing outreach efforts, especially to young adults even though the open enrollment season has come to a close.
The meeting with insurers was soon overshadowed by President Obama’s afternoon press conference where he announced that over 8 million people had selected insurance policies through the health exchanges created under his signature health reform law. Thirty-five percent of enrollees are under age 35 and 28% of enrollees are between the ages of 18 and 34. (the 35% number includes newborns andtoddlers who did NOT sign up as they are considered “Dependents” not enrollees, yet another lie from this Administration)! From the get-go, even before Healthcare.gov was even rolled out, the Administration predicted that most Americans would wait until the end of open enrollment to select a plan and it looks like they were right. Here are the month by month totals for both state and federal exchanges:
(Now all we have to do is (1) see who actually Paid for the coverage and (2) See which folks already had coverage before this Mess!)
* October – 106,185
* November – 258,497
* December – 1,788,739 (by the deadline for January 1 coverage)
* January – 1,146,071
* February – 942,833
* March – 2.9 million
* April 1-15 – 900,000
Add the numbers up and you get a total of 8,042,325 Americans, with nearly half of Americans signing up in the last six weeks.
The president also said during his visit to the White House briefing room that it is “absolutely possible” to consider tweaks to the health reform law, but deferred to Congress for the timeframe and called for a change in tune from the Republicans before it happens. Politically speaking, it is highly unlikely significant changes will go through Congress before the November midterm elections.
Additionally, the president announced his disappointment in the two dozen or so states that chose not to expand Medicaid, saying that “we have 5 million people that could be covered and zero reasons not to do it.”
We can probably think of a reason or billions as to why some states are hesitant to expand the program, but that’s just us.
Anyhoo, as the president’s press conference came to a close, he called on his party to defend the law, especially now that millions of people have access to care as a result of its implementation. Last but not least, the president noted that this political battle over health reform has been ongoing for five years and it’s time to move onto something else.