For the first time since the law took effect, more Americans support rather than oppose Obamacare.
A newly released Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 49 percent support the law and 48 percent oppose it. Though the findings are not divisive, they are significant since this is the first time since August 2009 that support for Obamacare outweighed opposition.
The polls finding come hours away from the midnight deadline to sign up for health coverage. As of last Friday, the Obama administration said some 6 million people had selected a plan on the state or federal exchanges. Since then, the White House says they have experienced a surge of enrollments on the federal website Healthcare.gov. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in an email on Monday that as of 2 pm, the site, which once again crashed because of the volume, had more than 1.6 million visits.
States running their own exchanges have experienced a similar surge. CoverCalifornia reported as of Monday afternoon, the exchange had enrolled more than 1.2 million people—about one fifth of total enrollment nationwide.
Overall, the law has extended insurance coverage to 9.5 million, according to the Los Angeles Times. This includes people getting coverage on the exchanges, those purchasing plans off the exchanges, the 3 million young Americans who either remained on their parents’ plans or canceled one of their own to join a parental plan, as well as the 4.5 million people who are newly covered under Medicaid.
The rising support of the law, as well as the increasing number of sign ups, is good news for congressional Democrats, vulnerable ahead of the midterm elections.
Meanwhile, Republicans say they will continue to work to dismantle the healthcare law, which they claim is both a debt driver and a job killer.
“The president’s health care law continues to wreak havoc on American families, small businesses and our economy,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said in a statement on Monday. "Millions of Americans are seeing their premiums rise, not the lower prices the president promised. Many small businesses are afraid to hire new workers, instead cutting hours and dropping health coverage for existing employees. Many Americans can no longer see their family doctor, despite the pledge no one would lose access to their physician. Seniors are feeling the impact, losing their Medicare Advantage plans the president promised they could keep. And taxpayers are being forced to pick up an unaffordable tab."
While the administration points to the latest enrollment numbers as a victory, there are still many crucial questions that must be addressed.
This includes how many of the total enrollees have paid their premiums. Insurers have estimated that about 15 to 20 percent have not paid for their policies, meaning that they have not gained coverage under the exchanges.
It will also be important to know the mix of enrollees. The Obama administration originally wanted young people to make up 40 percent of total sign ups. The latest figures through March show that people ages 18-35 make up just about 25 percent.
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times: