Slatest PM: Obamacare's "November Surge"

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Nov. 22 2013 4:34 PM

Slatest PM: Obamacare's "November Surge"

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A healthcare reform specialist helps people select insurance plans at the free Affordable Care Act (ACA) Enrollment Fair at Pasadena City College on November 19, 2013

Photo by David McNew/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

Obamacare's "November Surge": Washington Post: "After anemic enrollment in the new health insurance marketplaces in October, states have begun to see a much faster pace of sign-ups in November, prompting health policy researchers to announce a 'November surge.' By the end of October, the federal government had counted 106,000 people enrolled into private coverage through the 14 new state-based marketplaces and the federal marketplace, a small percentage of the projected half-million sign-ups. By mid-November, though, with the state marketplaces reporting fresh data, that number had just about doubled to more than 200,000. 'The latest enrollment figures from the 14 states that are running their own marketplaces show that enrollment has climbed to at least 200,000 people nationwide,' Sara Collins and Tracy Garber wrote Friday for the Commonwealth Fund. 'This latest figure does not account for any new enrollment in the federal marketplaces in 36 states, which is also likely to have increased since early November.'"

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The Expected and Unexpected: Wonkblog: "Health policy experts have always expected that enrollment would be slower in October than it would be in November or December, given that no coverage even starts until January. What they did not expect was a whole host of technical issues that would make it difficult for even the most eager of shoppers to purchase coverage. The White House contends that this depressed enrollment in October, at least in the federal marketplace. That hasn't been true everywhere: Some state-based marketplaces had a pretty smooth launch, and are seeing the pace of enrollment speed up daily."

Meanwhile: New York Times: "The Obama administration said Friday that it would give people eight more days, until Dec. 23, to sign up for health insurance coverage that takes effect on Jan. 1 under the new health care law. ... The administration also said it would delay the 2015 insurance enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act by a month, pushing it beyond the 2014 midterm elections. ... The decision means that people who have not signed up for insurance by the end of March will have to wait until Nov. 15, 2014, to apply again. The second enrollment period was previously scheduled to begin on Oct. 15, 2014. ... The decision to move the 2015 open enrollment beyond the midterm elections, which will be held Nov. 4, could help Democratic candidates who have been worried that another debacle involving the health care law’s website, HealthCare.gov, would hurt them just as they are facing voters."

It's Friday, November 22nd, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

Haiyan's Ever-Growing Death Toll: Associated Press: "The death toll from one of the strongest typhoons on record has risen above 5,000 and is likely to climb further, although recovery efforts are beginning to take hold, Philippine officials said Friday. Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said 4,919 people were killed on Leyte, Samar and nearby islands in the Eastern Visayas region. Civil defense chief Eduardo del Rosario said 290 others died in other parts of the central and southern Philippines. The regions were battered two weeks ago by fierce winds and tsunami-like storm surges from Typhoon Haiyan, locally called Yolanda. Del Rosario said there were 1,611 people still missing."

Mall Collapse: Reuters: "Rescue workers pulled bodies from the ruins of a collapsed supermarket in the Latvian capital Riga on Friday as the death toll rose to 51 in the Baltic state's worst disaster in decades. Cranes lifted large slabs from the wreckage of the Maxima store, in a Riga suburb of grey, Soviet-era housing, to find those trapped when the roof collapsed late on Thursday. The supermarket was full of shoppers on their way home from work. Rescue workers cleared away rubble from the store, which had occupied around 1,500 square meters (16,150 square feet), as ambulances and fire engines stood by. Police said the death toll had reached 51 as of 2000 GMT, including three rescue workers. Thirty-eight more were injured. They said no survivors had been found in the past few hours."

A Sign of Progress: Reuters: "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Geneva to join talks on Iran's nuclear program, the State Department said on Friday, as Tehran and six world powers appeared closer to clinching an elusive breakthrough. Washington's announcement came after diplomats in the Swiss city said a major sticking point in negotiations on an agreement under which Tehran would curb its contested atomic activities may have been overcome. Kerry would leave for Geneva later on Friday 'with the goal of continuing to help narrow the differences and move closer to an agreement,' State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said."

U.S. Vet Held in North Korea: CBS/AP: "North Korean authorities have confirmed they have detained an American citizen, the State Department said Friday, while the wife of the 85-year-old Korean War veteran being held there implored authorities to let her husband return to his 'anxious, concerned family.' North Korea told the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang about the detention and said it hasn't granted diplomats access to the person who was not named, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters. The Swedish Embassy is negotiating on behalf of Merrill Newman because the U.S. has no diplomatic ties to North Korea."

T-Giving Travel Alert: NBC News: "Forecasters are warning Thanksgiving travelers to beware, as a sweeping winter storm system could bring icy roads, flight delays and more headaches to the holiday next week. ...  [Weather Channel senior meteorologist Jonathan] Erdman said the Northeast would likely see 'massive flight delays' on Wednesday in all major airports, because of rain, snow and low-lying clouds that wreak havoc with flight plans. More than 2.4 million people are expected to have flights scheduled the day before Thanksgiving, according to Airlines for America, an airline industry group. ... The storm system [will be] on track for the Northeast, with some initial rain and low clouds moving up past Washington D.C., by late Tuesday. Erdman said specific details as to how much snow the storm will bring were still unclear, and while it would not be a crippling snowstorm for holiday travel, it would make air and road trips more difficult. The storm will for the most part be gone come Thanksgiving Day in most areas, but an impending cold front should still leave snow on the roads."

An Ancient Ocean: USA Today: "The remains of a salty ocean ancient enough for dinosaurs to have drowned in it have been found deep in the sediment under the Chesapeake Bay. The seawater — believed to be 100 to 150 million years old — was isolated, trapped a half-mile underground, and preserved with the help of an asteroid that smashed into the area around 35 million years ago, creating a huge crater. The watery fossil holds around 3 trillion gallons, and is 'the oldest large body of ancient seawater in the world,' according to government hydrologists who made the amazing find while mapping the ancient crater under Virginia's Cape Charles. ... But while the distinct chemical signature of the Cretaceous-era ocean has been preserved, the remnants are scattered among countless cracks and pores, meaning any ancient ocean life is very unlikely to have survived."

That's all for today. See you back here Monday. Until then, tell your friends to subscribe or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.