Donald Trump's efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act's open-enrollment period were hardly subtle. The administration cut the enrollment window for consumers in half, curtailed outreach programs, and dramatically scaled back advertising campaigns.
Making matters worse, the president himself kept telling the public that the law is "dead," while taking policy steps that forced premiums higher. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities recently published a list tracking each of the actions Trump World has taken to "sabotage the ACA by destabilizing private insurance markets or reversing the law's historic gains in health coverage" -- and the list wasn't short.
But if the Republican White House hoped this year's ACA enrollment period would kill off "Obamacare," it missed.
About 8.8 million people signed up for insurance on the federal health care exchange during Obamacare's latest open enrollment period, a senior health official announced on Thursday. [...]In the final week, 4.1 million people were signed up, including existing customers who were automatically enrolled in a plan. The numbers may go up slightly because some customers were delayed in enrolling by the deadline due to high volume and because some areas affected by hurricanes were granted an extended enrollment period.
Lori Lodes, the former director of the office of communications for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, estimated that those additional healthcare.gov customers will likely push the total to roughly 8.95 million.
Of course, this total will only reflect those who signed up for coverage through the federal exchange marketplace. About a third of the country has their own state-based marketplaces, which will push the overall total much higher. How much higher? ACA Signup's Charles Gaba -- the go-to national authority on such matters -- published an item yesterday projecting a total for the year in the neighborhood of 12 million Americans.
To be sure, that won't be a record, but it'll keep this year's tally competitive with previous years' totals, which seemed inconceivable when the Trump administration took deliberate steps to discourage enrollments.
The president spent months insisting that the entirety of the Affordable Care Act is "dead" and "gone." Forgive the obvious cliché, but the reports of the Obamacare's death have been greatly exaggerated.
Postscript: As encouraging as these results are for those who want the American health care system to succeed, it's worth pausing to appreciate what the totals might have looked like if there were an administration in place that wanted to make it easier for consumers to get affordable coverage.
The totals, to be sure, look surprisingly good. But they could have been even better without Trump's sabotage campaign.