administration last reported 2.2 million enrollees in Obamacare plans
through late December, indicating that about 800,000 more have signed up
for coverage so far in January.
Before the botched Oct. 1 start of enrollment, the government had
expected to enroll 3.3 million people in private coverage by the end of
"I think that we're making significant
progress but you won't hear anyone ... say that we're done with this
effort," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Friday. "There's a
lot of work that needs to be done."
seeing a website and marketplaces, federal marketplaces, functioning
much more effectively," he continued, "and that's, believe me, a welcome
Meanwhile, top Republicans are saying they can no longer just be the
party of "No" on Obamacare: They need to come up with an alternative
health care policy.
While many Americans are skeptical of President Obama's
health care overhaul, they also tell lawmakers they worry about keeping their
costs from getting out of control. For those voters, a party that offers a
platform to repeal the 2010 law without anything to replace it may not be very
As a result, lawmakers from both the establishment wing
of the Republican Party and the more fiscally conservative small-government
proponents in the tea party movement are exploring health care policies.
House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner of Ohio said
it would be a major topic at a Republican retreat next week.
"We need to present the American people with a
positive," said long-time Senator John McCain of Arizona, who in 2008 had
a detailed healthcare reform plan as the Republican Party's presidential
candidate against Democrat Obama.
"A number of people are working on it, and we've
come up with the various provisions, and now hopefully we're going to put
together a Republican package" on health care, McCain told Reuters outside
the Senate last week.
Several bills have already been introduced by Republicans
in the House and Senate but no single plan has yet emerged.
Some start with the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act - a move that would almost certainly be vetoed by Obama if it
both chambers, which is unlikely as long as Democrats hold the Senate.
Some bills propose new tax credits or deductions to help people
pay for health insurance.
Boehner, who has presided over dozens of House
votes to limit or curtail Obamacare, said that at their annual retreat Jan.
29-31, House Republicans would discuss a plan to make health care insurance more
accessible and affordable.
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