Confirmed Exchange QHPs: 11,808,046 as of 4/20/15
Estimated: 12.20M (9.30M via HCgov) as of 4/20/15

Estimated ACA Policy Enrollment: 32.4M
(10.73M Exchange QHPs, 8.41M OFF-Exchange QHPs, 330K SHOP, 12.9M Medicaid/CHIP)

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Last week a self-described "Tea Party Patriot" and "Lifelong Republican" named James Webb posted a video which went viral because he was openly stating that he "might" actually vote for Hillary Clinton next year specifically because he's afraid of a Republican president doing exactly what the GOP has been trying to do for 5 years now: Repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Earlier I posted about a new Bloomberg News poll which shows that only 35% of the population wants to repeal the ACA, while 63% want to either keep it as is or give it a few years to see how it goes with only minor tweaks.

And today, there's a story in USA Today which shows that the tide may finally be turning, even in areas where President Obama himself is considered toxic: Appalachia:

As you'll recall, in every state but 3 (CO, MA & ID), the ACA exchanges are allowing people who a) had to pay the "shared responsibility penalty" last year; b) missed the 2/22 deadline for enrolling in healthcare coverage this year and c) "didn't know" about the penalty until after the deadline (honor system!) were given a roughly 6-week period to go ahead and enroll for the rest of 2015.

A couple of weeks back I reported that I had seriously overestimated the number of people who were likely to take advantage of the ongoing tax filing season Special Enrollment Period, which I've shortened to #ACATaxTIme. The time window for most states is from 3/15/15 - 4/30/15, although a few states started a bit earlier/later.

I had made a very rough "spitball" guess that perhaps somewhere between 600K - 1.2 million people might select exchange policies during this SEP, based on extremely vague information about just how many people actually qualified.

Long-time readers may recall that last June, I tore Sharyl Attkisson to shreds for a rather idiotic story she wrote over at The Daily Signal (a front for the right-wing Heritage Foundation), in which she used some absurd math to try and claim that the ACA had only increased the number of Americans with health insurance by 3.4 million, when it was actually closer to 11-12 million people at the time (now up to around 14-15 million).

A few months later, I again laid into her for a rather lame "Obamacare Raised My Rates 36x!!" tweet that she sent out which, while not actually proven false, certainly didn't include any supporting evidence, details or context whatsoever.

Apparently the answer to the question "How many times will they vote to repeal the ACA before giving it up already?" is "67" (or in the mid-50's, depending on your definition).

After five years and more than 50 votes in Congress, the Republican campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act is essentially over.

GOP congressional leaders, unable to roll back the law while President Obama remains in office and unwilling to again threaten a government shutdown to pressure him, are focused on other issues, including trade and tax reform.

Less noted, senior Republican lawmakers have quietly incorporated many of the law's key protections into their own proposals, including guaranteeing coverage and providing government assistance to help consumers purchase insurance.

And although the law remains very unpopular with GOP voters, more than 20 million Americans now depend on it for health benefits, making even some of the most conservative Republicans loath to cut off coverage.

Thanks to Jesse LaGreca for the heads up on this piece of idiocy from The Daily Signal, aka "One of the heads of the Heritage Foundation Hydra":

Forcing States to Recognize Gay Marriage Could Increase Number of Abortions

In a nutshell: A reduction in the opposite-sex marriage rate means an increase in the percentage of women who are unmarried and who, according to all available data, have much higher abortion rates than married women. And based on past experience, institutionalizing same-sex marriage poses an enormous risk of reduced opposite-sex marriage rates.

So, my family finally got around to watching Monsters University, the completely unnecessary prequel to Monsters, Inc. Thoughts:

--It was actually a lot better than I was expecting. No, it's not in the upper echelon of Pixar's library, but it's a solid addition. I'd rank it about 10th out of the 14 Pixar movies to date (below Ratatouille and WALL-E, but above Brave, A Bug's Life, Cars or Cars 2).

--Pixar's biggest problem these days is twofold: First, they set the bar so high with masterpieces such as Toy Story 2 & 3, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo and Up that when they make a movie that's "merely" very good it seems "disappointing" by comparison.

At the same time, when Pixar was kicking ass and taking names, they also had very little serious competition; the other studios tried to ape Pixar technically, but without having the storytelling/character/dialogue chops. That's changed over the past few years, however; movies like How to Train Your Dragon, Tangled, the Lego Movie, (the first) Despicable Me, (the first) Ice Age and Wreck-It Ralph have proven that the other studios have seriously upped their game. That's good for everyone, but it also ups the ante further for Pixar these days.

After one botched vote, two years and an all-out resistance blitz by the Koch Bros and their ilk which was so obnoxious that they managed to alienate local Republicans, the Medicaid expansion provision of the Affordable Care Act has finally officially passed both the state House and Senate of Montana, and should be signed into law by the Democratic governor any moment now.

HELENA (AP) – The state Legislature has passed a bill expanding Medicaid eligibility to about 70,000 low-income Montana residents.

The bill approved Saturday heads to Gov. Steve Bullock, who is expected to sign it into law.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott announced Thursday that his administration will file a lawsuit against the federal government for threatening to withhold more than $1 billion in funding for hospitals if the state fails to expand Medicaid.

“It is appalling that President Obama would cut off federal health care dollars to Florida in an effort to force our state further into Obamacare,” Scott said, citing a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that said the federal government couldn’t put a “gun to the head” of states to force them to expand Medicaid under the health care law.

The Obama administration quickly accused Scott of misconstruing that court decision because the state is not being forced to do anything. And White House spokesman Josh Earnest blasted the governor for putting politics above people.

The seminar is not open to the public (it's only for members of the Society of Actuaries), but I'm kind of geeked about it as this is my first non-local speaking engagement:

Best Actuarial Practices in Health Studies Seminar

1:00 – 2:00 p.m.
Session 1 – How Making Numbers Accessible and Data Visualization Made One Person’s Website Newsworthy at the National Level

Should be pretty cool!

The HHS Dept. reported that exactly 97,079 people had selected private policies in Idaho via their all-new state-based exchange during 2015 Open Enrollment (including the "standing in line" period).

Unlike most states, Idaho chose not to participate in any sort of special tax filing season enrollment period (MA & CO are the other two which didn't do so; every other state is still allowing enrollment for people who had to pay the fine last year and didn't make the cut this year until April 30th, except for WA which cuts things off today and VT which bumped theirs out until the end of May).

While Idaho, like every state, does still allow people to enroll during the off-season if they have a major life change (getting married/divorced, having a baby, moving, losing other coverage, etc), that tends to be cancelled out by other people dropping their coverage for similar reasons.