The CMS announced this week that 4.2 million Americans enrolled in coverage through the end of February. The Congressional Budget Office has projected that 6 million will sign up for commercial plans by the March 31 deadline.
There have been widespread concerns that the marketplaces won't attract enough young, healthy customers to create a balanced risk pool. In particular, concerns have been raised about the fact that only 25% of exchange customers through February were part of the key 18-to-34-year-old demographic.
Obama also reiterated his frustration that roughly half the states are refusing to move forward with an expansion of Medicaid even though the federal government will initially pick up the entire cost. “For political reasons a number of states have chosen to not take us up on that,” Obama said.
The president also downplayed the tax penalty that many individuals will face if they fail to obtain coverage by March 31. He pointed out that if individuals can't find coverage that's affordable they'll be eligible for a hardship exemption. “The penalty really applies to folks who clearly can afford health insurance, but are choosing not to get it,” Obama said.
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