In the first month of open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), only 387 Louisianans completed the process and selected a health care plan, according to figures released Nov. 13 by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. A little more than 7,700 people completed the online application at HealthCare.gov but have not selected a health plan.
Louisiana is one of 36 states that used the federal website rather than set up a program of state health exchanges. In those 36 states, 26,794 people have now set up plans. The number of total plan selections among people in all 50 states is 106,185.
Gov. Bobby Jindal has been one of the most vociferous critics of Obamacare and has refused to accept the federal health exchanges for Louisiana, thus surrendering Medicaid funds for hundreds of thousands of under-insured Louisiana residents in the process. After President Barack Obama spoke at the Port of New Orleans Nov. 8, Jindal's office released a statement saying the governor would not let Obama "bully Louisiana" into accepting the program, adding, "The disastrous rollout of Obamacare is a case in point that we don't need top-down, one-size-fits-all federal mandates and instead should continue to focus on health care solutions that make sense for Louisiana. Obamacare needs to be repealed."
Congressional Republicans also have hit the president hard on the issue — and hit U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who voted for and has continued to express support for the Affordable Care Act. The political advocacy group Americans For Prosperity has run ads in recent weeks targeting Landrieu because of her support.
Two weeks ago, Landrieu introduced the "Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act," which would, among other things, grandfather in some health plans set to expire under the new Obamacare guidelines. Several other prominent Democrats, including U.S. Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., signed on to co-sponsor Landrieu's legislation.
On Nov. 14, after scores of news stories about Americans having their existing coverage canceled because it didn't meet Obamacare standards, the president announced that insurers would be allowed to continue offering pre-existing plans for one more year.
Landrieu did not withdraw her bill, but said in a statement, "I'm encouraged that the president took action to stop the cancellation of insurance policies that people were promised they could retain. ... [F]or the first time under the Affordable Care Act, middle-class and hard working families, entrepreneurs and small businesses will have access to affordable, quality health care that's there when they need it most. And that is certainly something worth fighting for."