Slatest PM: The Stumbles and Successes of Obamacare's Deadline Day

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 31 2014 4:34 PM

Slatest PM: The Stumbles and Successes of Obamacare's Deadline Day

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This image taken March 31, 2014 in Washington, DC shows the home page for the White House site indicating the amount of time remaining before open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act closes

Photo by Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

The Final Day: Politico: "The Obamacare enrollment website, HealthCare.gov, endured renewed technical problems on Monday, creating serious obstacles for people trying to sign up before the midnight deadline and stirring up bad memories of the botched October launch. The website was down six hours early in the day, bounced back for a while, and triggered its 'virtual waiting room' to handle a traffic surge. But then another problem emerged around noon; people trying to start accounts for the first time couldn’t do so. That problem, which officials said was resolved at about 1:30 p.m., created a sense of uncertainty amid a surge of interest that seemed likely to bring signups well past the 6 million mark."

A Soft Deadline: New York Times: "The Obama administration is offering an unspecified amount of extra time to people who tried but, for one reason or another, failed to complete their applications by the deadline at 11:59 p.m. Monday. At least eight states running their own exchanges have also given consumers additional time to sign up. In Oregon, for example, where the state-run website has been plagued with problems, residents have an extra 30 days to enroll. ... In the last week, the administration counted more than 8.7 million visits to HealthCare.gov, including more than 2 million over the weekend. The telephone call center took more than 2.5 million phone calls in the last week, compared with 2.4 million for all of February."

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Signing Up vs. Paying: Washington Post: "Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Monday that she estimates between 80 and 90 percent of the 6 million people who have signed up for Obamacare have actually paid a premium. ... If between 80 and 90 percent of the six million have paid premiums, the number who are fully enrolled would be closer to five million than to six million."

The Bigger Picture: Los Angeles Times: "As the law's initial enrollment period closes, at least 9.5 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage…  At least 6 million people have signed up for health coverage on the new marketplaces, about one-third of whom were previously uninsured… At least 4.5 million previously uninsured adults have signed up for state Medicaid programs, according to Rand's unpublished survey data, which were shared with The Times… An additional 3 million young adults have gained coverage in recent years through a provision of the law that enables dependent children to remain on their parents' health plans until they turn 26, according to national health insurance surveys from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… About 9 million people have bought health plans directly from insurers, instead of using the marketplaces, Rand found. The vast majority of these people were previously insured… Fewer than a million people who had health plans in 2013 are now uninsured because their plans were canceled for not meeting new standards set by the law, the Rand survey indicates."

It's Monday,  March 31th, welcome to the Slatest PM. Follow your afternoon host on Twitter at @k_tunney and the whole team at @Slatest.

Climate Change Gets Serious: New York Times: "Climate change is already having sweeping effects on every continent and throughout the world’s oceans, scientists reported Monday, and they warned that the problem is likely to grow substantially worse unless greenhouse emissions are brought under control. The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, concluded that ice caps are melting, sea ice in the Arctic is collapsing, water supplies are coming under stress, heat waves and heavy rains are intensifying, coral reefs are dying, and fish and many other creatures are migrating toward the poles or in some cases going extinct. … The scientists emphasized that climate change is not just some problem of the distant future, but is happening now." 

Firing Shots: USA Today: "North and South Korea fired artillery shells into each other's waters Monday, a flare-up of animosity between the rivals that forced residents of five front-line South Korean islands to evacuate to shelters, South Korean officials said. The South Korean artillery fire came after shells from a North Korean live-fire drill fell south of the Koreas' disputed western sea boundary, an official with South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, said the official, who provided no other details and spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules. The exchange of fire followed Pyongyang's earlier, unusual announcement that it would conduct live-fire drills in seven areas north of the poorly marked Yellow Sea boundary between the countries. North Korea routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean, but it's rare for the country to disclose such training plans in advance. The announcement was seen as an expression of Pyongyang's frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid.”

Rear-View Cameras: Detroit News: "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Monday finalized long-delayed rules that will require automakers to install back-up cameras in all vehicles by May 2018. The new rules set rear visibility standards that automakers will initially be able to meet only by installing cameras. At the same time, major automakers said Monday they are petitioning the Obama administration to let them end the use of side view mirrors if they install cameras that could perform the same task — a move that could improve fuel efficiency. Since it was first proposed, the cost of hardware has come down as more cameras have been added to certain models. Honda Motor Co. and Subaru Motor Co. both announced they are making the cameras standard in all vehicles."

Opening Day Pay Day: Daily Reporter : "The Los Angeles Dodgers set a record with an opening-day payroll of $234 million Sunday, according to a study of big league contracts by The Associated Press. The New York Yankees were a distant second at $199 million, ending their streak of six straight openers above the $200 million mark. The Yankees had topped the opening-day salary list for 15 straight years and had set the previous mark of $230 million last season. The Dodgers spent more than five times the total of the Houston Astros, who at $45 million were last for the second straight year but vastly above their $27 million outlay on opening day last season. Miami, at $47 million, repeated in 29th place.”

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

Kelly Tunney is a Slate intern in New York City.

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