Sign-Ups Under Affordable Care Act So Far Seem Not Hurt by Donald Trump’s Win

More than a million people chose plans on the federal exchange in the first two weeks of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, indicating sign-ups haven’t been hurt by Donald Trump’s plans to repeal or amend the law.

ENLARGE Photo: Associated Press

WASHINGTON—The government says that more than a million people selected plans on the federal exchange during the first two weeks of open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act, indicating sign-ups so far haven’t been hurt by President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to repeal or amend the health law.

About 53,000 more people selected plans during the first 12 days of open enrollment than during the comparable period last year, officials with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said on Wednesday. Open enrollment began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 31, into the first days of the Trump administration.

Also during those first 12 days of open enrollment, 250,000 new consumers and more than 750,000 consumers renewed plans, CMS officials said. Most people need to sign up by Dec. 15 for coverage that starts Jan. 1.

“The American people are demonstrating how much they continue to want and need the coverage the marketplace offers,” Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said.

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Mr. Trump’s victory has cast uncertainty over the future of the 2010 health law, which has reduced the uninsured rate in the U.S., changed insurance coverage and led more than 30 states to expand eligibility for Medicaid.

The president-elect and Republicans have said they would strike down some or all of the ACA, which has been dogged by criticism over rising premiums and a drop in insurer participation.

Thousands of people calling the federal exchange call center are asking how the election will affect their coverage, said Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of CMS. He said his agency has had dozens of conversation with insurance companies eager to continue coverage.

He said he was buoyed by the fact that enrollment has been climbing each day.

Mr. Slavitt also said that CMS, which oversees the health law, is committed to a smooth transfer to the new administration but has yet to hear from the Trump transition team.

“They’ve not reached out to us,” he said. He added that “we are heartened from what we hear from Republicans and Democrats that they don’t want anything disruptive,” he said.

Health analysts are watching the current open-enrollment season closely because a robust number of sign-ups would make it more politically difficult for Republicans to make changes that take away coverage from millions of Americans. Tepid enrollment, however, would likely buttress GOP claims that the law isn’t working as intended and needs to be repealed and replaced.

Supporters of the law echoed Ms. Burwell. Anne Filipic, the head of the Enroll America sign-up coalition, said Wednesday that sturdy sign-ups in what had been a “complicated” outreach effort this year showed how many people were benefiting from the law and would need to be considered by Republicans if the law is struck. “There’s strong evidence consumers are actually moving now to make sure they are enrolled,” she said.

Key components of the ACA could be struck down quickly if lawmakers wanted to use a budget process that allows them to get around procedural hurdles that require 60 votes in the Senate, but it may take longer to fashion a replacement plan.

‘The American people are demonstrating how much they continue to want and need the coverage the marketplace offers.’

—Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell

Mr. Trump has said he is interested in retaining aspects of the health law, such as the ability of consumers to get coverage even if they have a pre-existing health condition. The Senate that will be sworn in Jan. 3 will include 51 Republicans and 48 Democrats; one race in Louisiana will go to a runoff Dec. 10.

Mr. Trump, along with leading Republican lawmakers, has said there is a need for some sort of transition period for people who have gotten coverage under the law.

The Obama administration has said it expects to have 13.8 million people select a plan by the end of open enrollment, a bump of 1.1 million compared with the end of 2016 enrollment. The majority of people who obtain coverage on the federal and state exchanges get subsidies that help offset the costs of their premiums.

Mr. Slavitt said he will be leaving when the new administration steps in but remains focused on a robust open-enrollment season.

“The results we’ve seen have come in despite the election so we do see the ramp continuing,” he said.

Write to Stephanie Armour at stephanie.armour@wsj.com

Article Sign-Ups Under Affordable Care Act So Far Seem Not Hurt by Donald Trump’s Win compiled by www.wsj.com