Obamacare Signup Period Ends Amid New Uncertainty
ObamaCare’s latest open enrollment period ended Saturday with the future of the law facing uncertainty after a federal judge in Texas struck it down.
Sign-ups for ObamaCare plans at healthcare.gov, the federal platform used by 39 states, had already lagged behind previous years, putting enrollment on track to drop for the second year in a row under the Trump administration.
“There’s a decent chance this will be the largest drop the federal marketplace has ever seen,” said Joshua Peck, co-founder of Get America Covered, a website that tries to spread the word about open enrollment. “It would be shocking to me if more than 8.8 million people were enrolled at the end of this period.”
Enrollment on the federal exchange is unlikely to top the 8.8 million who signed up last year, or the 9.2 million people who signed up in former President Obama’s final year.
In a late twist, a federal judge in Texas on Friday also issued a ruling finding core provisions of ObamaCare unconstitutional, making the whole law invalid.
While the decision will almost certainly be appealed, experts worried that it would cause confusion on the last day of open enrollment, which is usually the busiest day of the entire season.
Still, the law is still in effect and officials said the decision will not affect the 2019 plan year.
“The recent federal court decision is still moving through the courts, and the exchanges are still open for business and we will continue with open enrollment,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma tweeted Friday night.
“There is no impact to current coverage or coverage in a 2019 plan.”
A decline in enrollment next year doesn’t mean the law is imploding, experts say. But a drop in enrollment is certain to intensify the partisan fighting over the health-care law.
Democrats have repeatedly accused President Trump of “sabotaging” the 2010 law, pointing to the Trump administration’s decision not to defend ObamaCare against the lawsuit filed by Republican attorneys general. Republicans call the law a failure.