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HHS acknowledges overcounting Obamacare enrollment

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HHS acknowledges overcounting Obamacare enrollment

The Obama administration said Thursday that it incorrectly tallied health law sign-ups by accidentally adding about 380,000 dental-plan customers to its overall enrollment numbers. It reduced the overall number of people who enrolled in new coverage to about 6.7 million.

Bloomberg: Obamacare Dental Plan Error Has Critics Seeking Answers
The U.S. health secretary, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, said her agency made a mistake when it added dental-plan customers to recent figures on Obamacare enrollment. Republicans said she owes them an explanation. The disclosure by Burwell’s department that it accidentally added 380,000 people in dental plans to enrollment figures under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provided a new opening for critics. Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and chairman of the House committee that revealed the commingling of dental and health enrollment, said Burwell needs to clarify how the error happened. (Wayne, 11/21)

The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Overstates Health Care Enrollees
The Obama administration said it recently overstated how many people had paid-up health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges because of the incorrect inclusion of dental coverage sign-ups, marking an embarrassing disclosure as the health-care markets open for their second year of operation. Some 6.7 million people had paid-up health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s insurance exchanges as of mid-October, about 400,000 less than the government had reported last week, the Obama administration said Thursday. (Radnofsky, 11/20)

The New York Times: Health Insurance Enrollment For Exchanges Was Overcounted
The Obama administration acknowledged on Thursday that it overcounted the total number of people signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. ... The discrepancy was discovered by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which had asked for the enrollment records. (Goodnough, 11/20)

McClatchy: Latest Obamacare Gaffe: Marketplace Enrollment Inflated By 400,000
The Obama administration downsized the nation’s marketplace health insurance enrollment to 6.7 million people on Thursday after House investigators found the original estimates for medical coverage included 400,000 people who only had dental coverage. (Pugh, 11/20)

The Associated Press: Officials Admit Health Care Goof
The Obama administration Thursday acknowledged it has been over-reporting the number of people signed up under the health care law, a discrepancy that congressional Republicans seeking to repeal the program say they uncovered. It’s another credibility problem for the administration after video surfaced recently of former White House adviser Jonathan Gruber suggesting that deception was used to pass President Barack Obama’s signature law. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell called the lapse “unacceptable.” (Alonso-Zaldivar, 11/20)

The Washington Post's The Wonkblog: Administration 'Erroneously' Overcounted Obamacare Enrollees
That 7.3 million figure reported by the Department of Health and Human Services was down from the 8 million people who had signed up through the end of April. HHS hasn't provided a comprehensive accounting of why enrollment fell — such as how many people didn't pay their premiums or whether those enrollees found another source of coverage. (Millman, 11/20)

Los Angeles Times: Obama Administration Overstated Obamacare Enrollment Tally
Congressional Republicans nonetheless strongly criticized the administration and questioned its explanation. “Instead of offering the public an accurate accounting, the administration offered numbers that obscured and downplayed the number of dropouts,” said House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Vista.) “Now they’re saying this was just a ‘mistake.’ The claim that this was only [an] accident stretches credulity.” (Levey, 11/20)

USA Today: More Obamacare Troubles: Enrollment Numbers Inflated
The Department of Health and Human Services said Thursday it made a mistake in how it calculated enrollments under the Affordable Care Act, including 380,000 dental plans in its figures for medical plans. Those stand-alone dental plans allowed the Obama administration to claim more than 7 million paid enrollments — the "magic number" that would allow the new health insurance exchanges to be sustainable. The discrepancy was first reported by Bloomberg News, citing data obtained through the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. (Korte, 11/20)

Politico: Administration Explains Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Error
The Obama administration has admitted that it inflated Obamacare enrollment numbers twice this year — including in testimony to Congress — thanks to an error in the way health insurance numbers were conflated with dental insurance figures. The exaggeration, which HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said was an “unacceptable” mistake, inflated the reported number enrolled in Obamacare by 400,000. House Republicans first spotted the issue, and say that blaming the bad numbers on mistaken data “strains credulity.” If you take the dental insurance customers out of the latest administration Obamacare report, the enrollment number is closer 6.7 million now. (Norman, Pradhan and Kenen, 11/21)

The Fiscal Times: Oops: Obama Administration Inflated Obamacare Enrollment Numbers
In September, federal health officials announced that 7.3 million people had signed up for health insurance on the state or federal exchanges. This was big news—as it meant Obamacare had beaten the White House’s goal of enrolling 7 million people in the first year of the program. However, it turns out, the real number of people who signed up for medical coverage is actually about 6.97 million. (Ehley, 11/20)

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Time reports on California's enrollment numbers so far this open season -

Los Angeles Times: California Enrolls 11,357 In First 4 Days Of Obamacare Open Enrollment
California's insurance exchange said 11,357 new people signed up for Obamacare coverage in the first four days of open enrollment. The second year of sign-ups under the Affordable Care Act began Saturday, and the Covered California exchange said it was ahead of last year's pace. Enrollment runs through Feb. 15. Last year, it took 15 days for the state to reach 11,000 enrollees when the health-law expansion first launched in October 2013. (Terhune, 11/20)

Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent news service. It is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health-care-policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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