TEXAS–Despite large-scale efforts by leftist groups such as Enroll America to push Obamacare in the Lone Star State, new statistics confirm that uninsured Texans are not accepting health care mandates. According to figures released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), only 87,400 Texans selected health insurance plans through the federally subsidized marketplace in February.
With Obamacare’s March 31 deadline for open enrollment looming in the near future, navigators and supporters face an uphill battle for the final push to sign people up for coverage.
The Obama administration had optimistic expectations surrounding Texas’ enrollment numbers for February; those expectations were not met. As of March 1, 295,000 Texas residents selected converge on the Marketplace, up from 207,500 on February 1.
The actual number of enrolled Texas is likely to be significantly lower than the released figures state. Obama’s HHS can only count the number of individuals selecting plans on the online marketplace–not those actually paying for them.
Texas Governor Rick Perry has been a vehement opponent of Obamacare and chose not to expand Medicaid. In December he said, “People all across the country have witnessed what a disaster this program has been from its earliest stages, ranging from the $600 million website debacle to the sad fact that President Barack Obama flat-out deceived the American people when he promised that those who like their coverage could keep it. To stem the bleeding, the administration is resorting to arbitrary delays for some Obamacare mandates, which only inject more confusion into the marketplace and with consumers.”
Perry’s views mirror those of many citizens living in his state.
Arlene Wohlgemuth, director of the Center for Health Care Policy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, pointed out that the newly-released enrollment numbers signify weaknesses in the effort to promote Obamacare. “If the goal is to get uninsured people onto the exchange, they are such a long way from doing that,” she told the Texas Tribune.
Another concern with the new data is the apparent lack of younger people signing up on the Marketplace. HHS officials previously insisted that the enrollment numbers for young adults would increase, but that prediction never materialized. Texans aged 55 to 64 currently make up the largest group of enrollees, at 26 percent. If young, healthy individuals fail to sign up for Obamacare, premiums could go up and care quality could go down for those who are enrolled.
Despite the underwhelming enrollment statistics, numerous media outlets have been quick to distract from the unfavorable numbers. The Washington Post ran a story this morning gloating over the fact that the HealthCare.gov website, formerly riddled with glitches, recently received 40 percent more traffic due to an online video that President Obama did for the left-leaning humor site FunnyOrDie.com.
Several politicians and Democratic advocacy groups attempted to spin the enrollment numbers in a positive light. Katie Naranjo, Texas director of Protect Your Care, told the Associated Press, “It is clear from the numbers released today that Texans want to receive affordable health care coverage and pay their fair share into a system dedicated to relieving the burden of uncompensated care on hospitals and doctors. Despite Republicans’ best efforts to misinform and dissuade Texans about the Affordable Care Act, it is working and it is working in Texas.”
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