Obamacare sign-ups hit record 14.5 million under Biden after years of Trump sabotage


Republicans tried to repeal the health care law, which would have led to a loss of coverage for millions.

The Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday announced that 14.5 million Americans have signed up to get health insurance coverage through Affordable Care Act insurance marketplaces.

The number is a record for signups since health insurance marketplaces were first set up in 2010, exceeding the 12.6 million who signed up in 2016, President Barack Obama's last year in office, by 2 million. Marketplaces were opened as part of the Affordable Care Act signed into law by Obama after receiving only Democratic votes in Congress.

Under the tenure of former President Donald Trump, signups significantly declined. Trump's administration, working in concert with Republicans in Congress and at the state level, worked to undermine the exchanges and repeal the health care law.

In a statement, President Joe Biden noted that the American Rescue Plan Act, which passed Congress with only Democratic votes as well, played a key role in boosting signups.

"The American Rescue Plan did more to lower costs and expand access to health care than any action since the passage of the Affordable Care Act," said Biden. "It made quality coverage more affordable than ever—with families saving an average of $2,400 on their annual premiums, and four out of five consumers finding quality coverage for under $10 a month. As a result, millions of our fellow Americans have now gained the security and peace of mind that dependable health insurance brings."

The plan, signed into law by Biden in March, temporarily expanded subsidies for people with incomes 400% over the poverty line seeking insurance coverage on the exchanges. The law also increased financial assistance for people in lower-income brackets.

Signups were aided by frequent promotion from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in speeches and statements, as well as via their social media platforms, which reach millions.

Trump campaigned for the presidency in 2016 promising "a full repeal of Obamacare." In office, he backed efforts by Republicans in the House and Senate to throw out the law. An effort to kill the law in Congress failed after every Democratic senator and three Republican senators killed the legislation.

The Trump administration also put in place several policies to undermine the health care law. Trump suspended advertising promoting enrollment in the health care exchanges, threatened to withhold payments to insurers designed to reduce costs, cut funding for navigators who provide consumers with assistance and outreach obtaining health care, and imposed a host of federal rules designed to curtail health care signups.

By contrast, the Biden administration has invested $50 million in advertising for signups while extending the enrollment period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also gave out $80 million in grants to fund the navigators that had been cut by Trump.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.