- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 30, 2016

Obamacare lost 1.6 million customers on its web-based exchanges between the end of open enrollment and March 31, the administration said Thursday in a snapshot of how many customers held on to coverage after the law’s third round of signups.

The administration says 12.7 million signed up through Jan. 31, yet only 11.1 million were still paying their premiums two months later, a 13 percent drop-off.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said those numbers are OK because it assumed an 80 percent to 90 percent rate of retention. 

About 85 percent of remaining enrollees, or 9.4 million customers, were receiving tax credits averaging $291 per month to help them pay their premiums.

CMS said 8.4 million customers enrolled through the HealthCare.gov exchange serving 38 states, while 2.7 million signed up through state-run marketplaces.

It also said 1 million more people had exchange coverage as of March 31 than at the same point in 2015.

“This increased level of enrollment demonstrates the strength of the marketplace over time, as millions of Americans continue to have access to quality and affordable coverage when they need it. As of early this year, 20 million Americans had coverage thanks to provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and the Health Insurance Marketplace is an important contributor to that progress,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the federal HealthCare.gov exchanges.

President Obama is trying to put his signature law, the Affordable Care Act of 2010, on firmer footing before he leaves office in January, though Republicans say they will try to repeal the law if they can hold on to their congressional majorities and get presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump into the White House.

Republicans recently unveiled a long-awaited replacement plan that would scrap Obamacare’s coverage rules and mandates. Instead, it would allow insurers to sell their products across state lines and provide age-adjusted tax credits to people who don’t get covered through a job or government program, among other reforms.

The blueprint has not been enshrined in legislation that can be scored, however, so it is unclear how much it would cost or how many people it would cover compared with Obamacare.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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