Monday Short Cuts

Color me shocked (not). You've only had, what, 67 years to come up with one?

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said Thursday that Republicans might not be able to pass an alternative to ObamaCare until 2017.

Burr, along with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) unveiled a GOP replacement plan for ObamaCare on Wednesday. But, appearing the next evening on Fox News's "Special Report with Bret Baier," Burr said no single idea is likely to generate consensus.

"I don't think so," he said. "I think that there are going to be a lot of ideas not only in Congress but around the think tanks here in Washington and around the country."

Some positive news to cushion the blow of the CoOportunity meltdown...

The first year for Illinois' only co-op health insurance program could be charitably termed as troubled. Established as part of Obamacare, Land of Lincoln Health aimed to increase competition on the state's new health insurance exchange, but high prices meant it captured just under 2 percent of enrollments.

As it starts its second year, enrollment is up significantly. But the company is still in a hole and the clock is ticking on when it must begin repaying up to $160 million in federal loans.

Land of Lincoln's operating loss tripled to $11 million from March to September 2014, a window in which enrollment had for the most part ended. Feb. 15 is the deadline to enroll this year, and so far 30,000 people have chosen a Land of Lincoln plan, a nearly tenfold increase over last year.

“It's a little too early to say they made a remarkable turnaround . . . but it's a step in the right direction,” says Steve Riedl, a Chicago-based senior consulting actuary at Towers Watson.

Look, guys, I know I'm the one who just pointed out that your enrollment numbers aren't as bad as they seem, but some of these explanations are kind of lame, you have to admit:

Officials with the exchange remained optimistic that there will be a last-minute rush to buy coverage. Exchange spokesman Michael Marchand offered a list of ways to explain the shortfall:

  • About 10,000 people discovered when they went to renew their insurance that they're now eligible for free coverage through Medicaid.
  • Some people are waiting until the last minute to sign up because they over-extended themselves financially over the holidays and want to put off paying premiums as long as possible.
  •  More than 30,000 signed up during the last two weeks of enrollment in 2014.
  • Thousands had a birthday and are now on Medicare.
  • Some people moved out of state or got a job or secured insurance through a spouse's job and don't need to buy insurance through the exchange.
  • Some people have decided they'd rather pay another tax penalty than a monthly cost to buy insurance.

It's not that any of these rationales aren't legitimate, it's just that pretty much all of them should apply to every state...yet just about every other state seems to be improving their numbers substantially over last year. Unless WA's 6.1% moving to Medicaid (10K of the 163K who enrolled as of last spring) is atypical compared to other states, or their aged-to-Medicare population was disproportionate, I'm not sure I see what distinguishes Washington's situation from any other state.

Hispanics represent about a third of the nation’s uninsured, and for a number of reasons, signing them up has been harder. According to the latest government statistics, as of Jan. 16, two months into the current open enrollment period, just 10 percent of those who had enrolled in the 37 states served by are Latino. Despite a concerted effort by officials and health law advocates to reach Latinos, that’s up only slightly from 7 percent during the first few months of last year’s enrollment.