by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The first open enrollment for Obamacare starts Nov. 1 without its architect and chief advocate in the White House, raising questions about how it will fare under a new administration that views repeal of the law as one of its main priorities.
When former President Barack Obama was in office, he openly worked to sell plans on the law’s exchanges and to fund the law, sometimes issuing decisions beyond what his critics considered were allowable under presidential authority.
During his first open enrollment in 2014, Obama targeted young people by appearing on the comedy interview show “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis, soon after the federal exchange website, healthcare.gov, failed to launch properly. By his last open enrollment, he doubled ad funding from $50 million to $100 million.
Obama oversaw three open enrollment seasons. During that time he made numerous administrative moves to ensure Obamacare’s success, such as delaying the end of open enrollment several times, creating special enrollment periods for people to sign up outside of the designated timeframe, and propping up smaller insurers called co-ops. He allowed people to sign up for plans that did not comply with Obamacare’s mandates and authorized insurer funds known as cost-sharing reduction subsidies, a move that a federal judge ruled illegal because they weren’t appropriated by Congress.
Obama’s departure, and subsequent arrival of an administration not as interested in the law’s success, leaves open the question of whether Obamacare can succeed without a massive lift from the White House.