How Much Does State Obstruction Affect Obamacare Enrollment?


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Dylan Scott points to an interesting chart from Theda Skocpol that shows the signup rate for Obamacare in various states, ranked by how cooperative the various states have been in implementing the law. However, I draw a different conclusion than Scott does. It’s obvious that Medicaid signups are going to be way lower in states that have declined to join the Medicaid expansion, so it’s no surprise that this is exactly what Skocpol finds. What’s more interesting is how state cooperation affects signups on the exchanges. I’ve modified her chart to show only that:

If you take a look at just the exchange signups, it’s obvious that one, and only one, thing matters: whether a state has its own exchange or relies on the federal exchange. States running their own exchanges are well on the way to meeting their first-year goal for signups. States that rely on the federal exchange, no matter how cooperative they are, are barely signing up anyone at all. The disastrous rollout of the federal exchange website has obviously had a far greater impact on Obamacare signups than lack of cooperation in red states.

POSTSCRIPT: That’s assuming these numbers are right, of course. And after looking at them a little more carefully, I don’t think they are. According to year-end tallies, 1.1 million people had signed up for coverage via the federal exchange. However, eyeballing the chart and averaging across all states using the federal exchange, the federal exchange is at 5-6 percent of its first-year goal, which means its first-year goal must have been about 20 million. Likewise, 850,000 people had signed up via state exchanges. If that represents 37 percent of the first-year goal, it means the first-year goal for the state exchanges must have been around 2.3 million.

That number for state exchanges might be about right, but the number for the federal exchange sure isn’t. So I’m not sure what’s going on here.

POSTSCRIPT 2: There’s nothing in Skocpol’s report that says this, but apparently the state data is through January 4 while the federal data is through November 30. This makes comparisons between the two impossible, and it makes the chart above worthless. Please ignore this entire post.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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