- The Washington Times - Monday, March 31, 2014

A top White House aide said Monday he is optimistic about how Obamacare will turn out in its first year, despite a disastrous debut last fall, questions about sliding deadlines and worries that premiums could rise in the coming year.

“The law is hitting a lot of its mark all in the first year,” health care adviser Phil Schiliro told MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown with Chuck Todd” on the final day of the law’s six-month enrollment period.

He said the mix of enrollees is “getting better all the time,” a suggestion that more young, healthy enrollees are signing up at the last minute. 

The enrollment deadline is midnight Monday, but people can self-attest they were “in line” and want to finish up their plan selections in April.

Mr. Schiliro said the widespread criticism over the move would have been much worse if the White House had instituted an “arbitrary cutoff” that prevented people from getting covered. 

He said Americans should be enthusiastic about taking responsibility for their health coverage.

“It’s in their interest, it’s in the country’s interest,” he said.

Mr. Schiliro also tried to tamp down concerns that premiums on the Obamacare market will spike before enrollment starts again in November, saying many insurers priced their plans for a two-period and that controls in the law prevent dramatically sharp increases.

However, critics say some insurers will sock consumers with higher premiums after pricing their plans at comparatively rates to draw people into the market in the first year.

Finally, Mr. Schiliro promised Mr. Todd that people will have to pay the penalty for failing to obtain insurance this year, despite numerous “hardship” exemptions the administration extended in recent months, although it is “impossible to know” how many.

He said anyone who can afford insurance — but doesn’t obtain it — will have to pay up.