CareSource's Affordable Care Act expansion to be commended

In a meeting Wednesday with reporters and representatives of groups working to increase enrollment in the health plans, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwellacknowledged that the Affordable Care Act's fourth enrollment season - scheduled to begin November 1 and run until January 31 - is a pivotal time for the federal health law.

The President outlined in his speech some of the basics of the Affordable Care Act, why he wanted to pass it and tried to address some of the concerns that have been swirling around the legislation.

Obama planned to make that pitch during an appearance Thursday at Miami Dade College in Miami, Florida.

Obama portrayed the 2010 law revising the health-care system as a "starter home", saying, "You hope over time you can make improvements". But what he attempted Thursday was a hard sales job, as the 2010 law faces some new and troubling challenges.

Problems with rising premiums in many parts of the country as well as major insurers calling it quits have left consumers with few or in some cases no choices next year.

Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said the four enrollment of the Affordable Care Act is set to start November 1 and end January 31 and it's a pivotal moment for the federal health care law. "And as I've said before, we expect this to be a transition period for the marketplace". As another result, monthly premiums may rise by an average of 19 percent.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, though, says she will try to improve the law if she wins, pushing for beefed-up subsidies on the exchanges and the public option that Mr. Obama has endorsed. And he said consumers should be able to choose a government-run plan, or "public option", to bolster competition under his program, which suffers from dwindling consumer choice.

He called for tax credits for more people on the marketplace, suggesting it would make premiums more affordable for all consumers, as well as a public option for regions without enough competition on the exchanges.

More sick people signed up for insurance than insurance companies expected when setting premiums a year ago, she said. About 85 percent of customers get financial help.

The law also prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage to Americans for existing medical problems, and allowed parents to keep children insured on their health plans until age 26.

Obama acknowledged the law is not working perfectly, but said the problems could be fixed by legislation, encouraging lawmakers to create a government-run health insurance option to help US states where there is little or no competition among private insurers. Associated Press writer Chris Rugaber breaks down those claims and more.

Open enrollment ends January 31. Sign-ups end January 31.

The administration is hoping for a strong sign-up season to validate the president's signature domestic program, and for a victory by Democrat Hillary Clinton in the November 8 presidential election to shut down the Republican campaign for the law's repeal.

Rate increases around the country wouldn't dramatically affect most consumers, she said, noting the availability of government subsidies. Republican Donald Trump has pledged to repeal and replace the law.

He presented the uninsured rate, which is at its lowest point in US history, as evidence the law is helping people who were previously uninsured or underinsured.

The administration has been gunning for strong ACA enrollment leading into 2017, not just for the sake of getting more people covered, but also for the sake of stabilizing the current risk pool by attracting more young and healthy hold-outs.

HHS efforts will target the 5.1 million people eligible for Marketplace coverage who now buy it elsewhere, including 2.5 million that its analysts believe could be eligible for financial assistance.

  • Larry Hoffman