Slatest PM: Latest Obamacare Signup Figures Miss the Mark

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 11 2014 4:25 PM

Slatest PM: Latest Obamacare Signup Figures Miss the Mark

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Baseel Farah walks out of Leading Insurance Agency as the insurance agency helps enroll people in health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act on February 13, 2014 in Miami, Florida

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

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

Healthcare.gov Comes Up Short in February: National Journal: "Roughly 4.2 million people had signed up for coverage under Obamacare at the end of a weaker-than-expected February, the Obama administration said Tuesday. The administration's enrollment campaign is now in its intense final push ahead of the March 31 deadline to sign up for coverage. The White House and its allies are unleashing a flood of paid advertising, promotional partnerships, and grassroots outreach designed to coax consumers—and especially young people—into new insurance markets created by the health care law. February's progress was slower than expected. About 943,000 people signed up for coverage last month, compared with the nearly 1.3 million the Health and Human Services Department had anticipated for February."

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A Ways To Go: New York Times: "The number of people picking plans was smaller in February than in December or January. But administration officials predicted a surge of applications toward the end of this month, just before the open enrollment period ends. Of those who have signed to date, the administration said, about 25 percent were ages 18 to 34, the same proportion as in the first four months of the open enrollment period, through January. Insurers and the White House have avidly sought young adults, saying their premium payments were needed to offset the costs of coverage for Americans who were older and presumably sicker. ... In an internal memorandum in September, federal health officials said they wanted to have 5.6 million people enrolled by the end of February, with a total of seven million signed up by the end of this month." [The CBO revised that number down to 6 million last month, citing healthcare.gov's early tech problems.]

The Final Push: NBC News: "The White House is heading up a last-ditch push to get the word out about the exchanges and and their hefty subsidies. More than 80 percent of people who have signed up qualify for federal help in paying premiums, Tuesday’s data shows. This week’s theme for the enrollment push from the White House: #GeeksGetCovered, aimed at entrepreneurs, researchers, and graduate and postdoctoral students. 'These folks may be poised to launch America’s next great company, develop a life-saving drug treatment, or uncover a game changing scientific breakthrough, and they benefit from enrollment in quality, affordable health care,' a White House official said. President Barack Obama also made an appeal to young adults in an appearance with comedian Zach Galifianakis on the website Funny or Die. 'Healthcare.gov works great now,' he asserted."

It's Tuesday, March 11th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @JoshVoorhees, and the whole team at @Slatest.

CIA vs. Senate: New York Times: "The chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday accused the Central Intelligence Agency of improperly removing documents from computers that committee staff members had been using to complete a report on the agency’s detention program, saying the move was part of an effort to intimidate the committee. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and the chairwoman of the committee, suggested on the Senate floor that the agency had violated federal law and said the C.I.A. had undermined Congress’s constitutional right to oversee the actions of the executive branch. ... John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, denied Ms. Feinstein’s assertions on Tuesday."

The Latest Twist in Mystery of Missing Airliner: Reuters: "Malaysia's military believes a jetliner missing for almost four days turned and flew hundreds of kilometers to the west after it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country's east coast, a senior officer told Reuters on Tuesday. In one of the most baffling mysteries in recent aviation history, a massive search operation for the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER has so far found no trace of the aircraft or the 239 passengers and crew. Malaysian authorities have previously said flight MH370 disappeared about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for the Chinese capital Beijing. 'It changed course after Kota Bharu and took a lower altitude. It made it into the Malacca Strait,' the senior military officer, who has been briefed on investigations, told Reuters. That would appear to rule out sudden catastrophic mechanical failure, as it would mean the plane flew around 500 km (350 miles) at least after its last contact with air traffic control, although its transponder and other tracking systems were off." Map.

A Would-Be Shoe-Bomber Who Wasn't: CBS/AP:" A British man says he backed out of a shoe-bomb airplane plot in 2001 after his parents told him they wouldn't want their son to be a terrorist. Saajid Badat testified Tuesday in New York City at the trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden's son-in-law. Abu Ghaith could face life in prison if he's convicted of conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to al Qaeda in his role as al Qaeda's spokesman after the Sept. 11 attacks. He has pleaded not guilty. Badat says he quit the shoe-bomb plot hatched after 9/11 when he returned home to the United Kingdom and his parents expressed concern that he had been in Afghanistan. He says his mother told him she wouldn't want her son to be one of those 'sleepers.' Prosecutors began questioning Badat on Monday to try to show that then-al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith knew what he was talking about when he threatened Americans in the weeks after Sept. 11 with a second wave of airplane attacks."

Former Most Wanted Sentenced: Washington Post: "A former teacher at a prestigious private school in [Washington, D.C.] was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years in federal prison for producing child pornography. Eric Justin Toth, 32, pleaded guilty in December to stashing cameras designed as air fresheners at a student’s home and inside a bathroom at the Beauvoir School while he was a third grade teacher there between 2005 and 2008. He also produced a pornographic video of a 10-year-old student in his classroom and at the boy’s home in Maryland while he slept. ... Toth fled the D.C. area in 2008 after a school employee discovered pornographic images on a camera assigned to him. In the following years, Toth was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List and was featured on “America’s Most Wanted.” During that time, he was also a wily fugitive. Toth faked his own suicide, lived at a Phoenix homeless shelter, worked as a technical writer and computer technician in Austin. He was even scheduled to speak at a tech conference. He never showed up for that event and later fled to Nicaragua, where the FBI said he was captured after a tip from a tourist who spotted him."

And, Finally...: Associated Press: "Oregon owners of a 22-pound housecat who trapped them in their bedroom after attacking their baby say they're not giving up on their pet and are getting it medical attention and therapy. Two days after police arrived to subdue the 4-year-old part-Himalayan cat, owner Lee Palmer of Portland says he's taking the feline to a veterinarian. ...  Palmer says the animal attacked after the 7-month-old child pulled its tail. The baby wasn't injured. On the 911 call, the cat can be heard screeching in the background as Palmer says in a panicked voice: 'He's charging us. He's at our bedroom door.' Palmer also tells the dispatcher the cat has a 'history of violence.' Officers used a dog snare to capture the cat, and placed it in a crate."

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