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It’s no accident that ACA enrollments are reaching record highs

As ACA enrollments reach all-time highs, it's important to remember that these victories aren't accidental: They're the result of competent governing.


The Affordable Care Act has been on a winning streak for a while, and as Bloomberg Law reported, the good news continued this morning.

This year, nearly 1.8 million more people have signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act Marketplace than last year, marking an 18% increase, according to the US Department of Health & Human Services Tuesday. Almost 11.5 million people have selected a health plan as of Dec. 15, 2022, said the agency.

Consumers who enrolled by Dec. 15 will see their coverage begin on Jan. 1.

“Unprecedented investments lead to unprecedented results. Under President Biden’s leadership, we have strengthened the Affordable Care Act Marketplace with continued record affordability, robust competition, and historic outreach efforts — and today’s enrollment numbers reflect that,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a written statement. “Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, four out of five customers will be able to find a plan for $10 or less.”

The president issued a related statement of his own, boasting that ACA enrollment has reached “an all-time record,” as the nation’s uninsured rate hits “its lowest level in history.”

It’s worth emphasizing for context that the data will soon look even better: Nearly 11.5 million people signed up for coverage from the marketplace by Dec. 15, and that reflects an 18% increase over the same period last year, but the total doesn’t include Americans who sought coverage through state-based marketplaces.

What’s more, the open enrollment period isn’t over yet: Consumers can still get affordable health insurance until Jan. 15, and that coverage takes effect on Feb. 1.

It’s not surprising that the Biden administration would take this opportunity to brag about all of this. Circling back to our earlier coverage, the reform law continues to break its own record for extending health care coverage in part because the Biden administration launched an initiative to get people signed up — complete with a renewal of the navigator program — and in part because officials extended the length of the enrollment period.

But most important of all is the fact that insurance has never been more affordable than it is now: Democrats included generous new ACA subsidies in the party’s American Rescue Plan last year, with some consumers seeing their premiums fall to nearly or literally zero, and the Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act kept the premium assistance in place.

The political dynamic has changed, too. As regular readers know, most Republicans have waved the white flag in the fight over “Obamacare.” Indeed, by all appearances, after more than a decade of relentless fighting, most of the GOP has abandoned its “repeal and replace” crusade.

“I think it’s probably here to stay,” Sen. John Cornyn recently told NBC News, referring to the ACA. Similarly, Rep. Mike Gallagher, a member of the Republican Study Committee, was asked whether he expects a new Republican House majority to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “I don’t think that’s on the table,” the Missouri congressman replied.

For those of us who covered the political fight over the reform law, this day seemed implausible. Before Barack Obama signed the ACA, Republicans condemned it as an economy-destroying attack on free enterprise and the American way of life. After “Obamacare” became law, GOP lawmakers spent years, not only denouncing the reforms, but voting several dozen times to repeal it.

Now, as the ACA racks up policy victories, even many of Capitol Hill’s most conservative Republicans have moved on. No wonder the Biden administration is celebrating.