CMS: 1 Million New ACA Sign-Ups So Far

A quarter of a million new consumers have signed up for Affordable Care Act coverage on HealthCare.gov since open enrollment started, the Obama administration announced Wednesday.

More than 1 million people have signed up for 2017 coverage so far this year, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. About 750,000 of those sign-ups were returning customers. More than 300,000 of the new and returning sign-ups came between Nov. 9 and Nov. 11, the agency says — the three days immediately following last week’s election.

“The American people are demonstrating how much they continue to want and need the coverage the marketplace offers, and we are encouraging all Americans who need health insurance for 2017 to visit HealthCare.gov or their state Marketplace and check out their options,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement.

It’s a contentious time for HealthCare.gov and this year’s sign-up period was viewed as essential to solidifying the health care law. But the future of the law is uncertain after the election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to repeal it. Republican majorities in Congress are eager to help him do that.

Andy Slavitt, CMS’s acting administrator told reporters Tuesday that the website’s phone line has received about 8,000 calls since the election with consumers asking if the results affect their coverage. The agency has distributed scripts to call center workers with details about what they can tell consumers who have questions about the future of their coverage.

“I think it puts people very much at ease when they understand that this is the law of the land, that this coverage is available to them and will continue to be available to them through the course of the year, and that really that doesn’t change things,” Slavitt said. “I think there’s been a strong demonstration that people want and need these coverages.”

The agency delayed outreach efforts until after the election as to not have to compete for consumers’ attention, Slavitt said. But other than answering questions about the law, he said the agency’s messaging won’t be seriously changed by the results.

“When we relay to people that nothing is changing now and in the short-term, and I think we are heartened, certainly, in what we hear both from Republicans and Democrats that people respect the fact that nobody wants to do something disruptive to consumers, and I think consumers hear that as well,” he said. “When they hear that reinforced from us, I think that answers their question.”

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