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Drop in uninsured Americans poses a challenge for Republicans

Eight U.S. states saw a significant drop last year in the number of residents going without health insurance, according to a government report out Tuesday that has implications for the presidential campaign.

All but Florida had accepted a Medicaid expansion that is one of two major pathways to coverage under President Barack Obama's signature health care law. The law's other coverage route is subsidized private insurance, available in all 50 states.

Republican presidential candidates are vowing to repeal "Obamacare," while offering hardly any detail on how they'd replace it without millions losing coverage.

Politically, the eight states with statistically significant coverage gains in the National Health Interview Survey are a mix: Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, and New York. Five have Republican governors.

As a whole, the nation had an uninsured rate of 9.1 percent during the first nine months of 2015, according to the survey, an ongoing research project by a unit of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The uninsured rate was 14.4 percent in 2013, before the law's big coverage expansion.

The federal report does not analyze the reasons for the coverage gains, but independent experts say the trend is due to the Obama health care law, boosted by economic recovery.

The health care's law big coverage expansion got under way in 2014, and since then the nation's uninsured rate has fallen to a historically low level.

Even with Obama's law, nearly 29 million people were still uninsured in the nine months from January to June of last year. That includes an estimated 11 million immigrants without legal permission to be in the country, who are not entitled to coverage.


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