PolitiFact Florida

PolitiFact: Sen. Marco Rubio says healthcare law fell short of goal for 30 million signups

 

PolitiFact Florida

The statement: It says the goal of the Affordable Care Act was to get 30 million people insured, but that it only got 7 million. Marco Rubio said this on Tuesday, April 1, 2014, in an interview on Fox’s ‘Hannity.’

The ruling: Rubio does have a point that many Americans will remain uninsured under the reform, but his claim twists the administration’s timeline for enrolling uninsured Americans.

We rate this claim: Mostly False.

Politifact Florida is a partnership between the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald to check out truth in politics.


PolitiFact Florida

The White House celebrated earlier this week when 7.1 million Americans signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act marketplaces since they opened in October 2013.

Predictably, the law’s critics were not as thrilled. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., spoke on Hannity Tuesday night about what he sees as the reform’s shortcomings.

“I mean, the purpose of Obamacare was not to get 7 million people or 6 million people, or whatever the number now is, to sign up on a website,” Rubio said. “The purpose of Obamacare, according to them, was to get more people insurance. And by all accounts, it’s going to fall woefully short. You’re still going to have 30-some-odd million people in this country uninsured.”

We wanted to know whether Rubio’s claim that the healthcare law was falling short of its goals was correct. Rubio’s office didn’t return our request for comment.

One thing that struck us is that Rubio is mixing up numbers for the law’s first year and what policymakers hope the law achieves over the long run. No one expected to see the law’s full effects in the first year after the healthcare marketplaces opened.

The best authority on healthcare numbers is the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, which regularly publishes independent estimates of the law’s effects.

In February 2013, months before healthcare.gov launched, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that 7 million people would sign up on the marketplaces by March 31, 2014, after the marketplace had been open for six months.

The CBO estimated that by 2019, 27 million people will have signed up on the marketplaces. There will still be roughly 29 million people uninsured by that time, which is close to the number Rubio mentioned. But that’s down from 55 million uninsured in 2013.

Not everyone will end up with health insurance for a variety of reasons. Undocumented workers aren’t eligible to shop on the marketplaces. People living in states that have decided not to expand Medicaid will also be among the uninsured.

The law also has a hardship exemption. That means homeless people, domestic violence victims, people caring for disabled family members and others can apply to have the penalty fee waived for not purchasing insurance under the reform’s individual mandate.

Our ruling

Rubio claimed the Obama administration’s goal for the Affordable Care Act was to get 30 million Americans insured, not the 7 million who enrolled by the March 31 deadline. Down the road, there are targets to insure millions more via the online marketplaces. But the clearly stated goal for 2014, that the White House hit just in time, was 7 million signups. By 2019, that number is expected to jump to 27 million.

Rubio does have a point that many Americans will remain uninsured under the reform, but his claim twists the administration’s timeline for enrolling uninsured Americans. We rate his claim “Mostly False.”

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