On the day of the deadline to sign up for Obamacare, White House press secretary Jay Carney did not know how many people who enrolled were previously without health insurance – a critical fact since one key aspect of the law was to reduce the number of Americans without health coverage.
White House press secretary Jay Carney speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Monday, March 31, 2014. (AP/Susan Walsh)
“In some cases it's hard to measure this because it's kind of a counterfactual,” Carney told reporters Monday. After a long explanation, he later added: “So it's a tough number to measure. But as we get more data, we're going to provide the data that we get.”
After Obamcare was enacted, a number of Americans with individual plans came forward and said they were notified that they would be losing their health insurance because the plans were not compliant with the federal law.
March 31 is the official deadline for enrolling for a federally approved insurance plan through the Affordable Care Act. However, the Department of Health and Human Services has extended the time for final enrollment to late April for anyone who has already started the process.
The famously troubled healthcare.gov website that crashed the day of its Oct. 1 debut was stopped up again with glitches on the deadline day.
Carney did not have a final number on how many enrolled, but repeatedly said it was “more than 6 million.”
Asked specifically how many of those who signed up were previously uninsured, Carney didn't have a direct answer.
“What I can tell you is that we expect there to be a good mix of people who were previously uninsured but now have insurance,” Carney said. “Certainly there were a significant number who now qualified for Medicaid in those states that expanded Medicaid who will have insurance who didn't have it before. In some cases it's hard to measure this because it's kind of a counterfactual.”
“Every year prior to ACA, people lost insurance,” Carney continued. “If there had been no Affordable Care Act, that cycle and process would have happened just as it had in every previous year. What would be different is absent the Affordable Care Act they wouldn't have the options available to them now. So it's a tough number to measure. But as we get more data, we're going to provide the data that we get. What we know is that there are going to be more people in this country, in the millions, who have insurance that wouldn't have it before. And they will security they have not had before. They will have protections that did not exist before. It will be very hard for Republicans and other critics that a better world would be a world in which all those millions of Americans didn't have health insurance.”