Enrollment in Washington state’s Obamacare could top last year’s

Washington state will likely increase the number of people enrolled in Obamacare this year. So far 9,000 more people have signed for coverage this year than at the end of enrollment last year.

Washington state is on pace to increase the number of people with health insurance despite efforts by the Republican Congress and the Trump administration to gut the laws known as Obamacare that expanded insurance coverage across the nation.

So far consumers have selected 234,000 plans during Washington Health Benefit Exchange’s 2018 enrollment period, which ends Monday. That’s 9,000 more than last year. Of the 225,000 plans picked for the 2017 enrollment period, 204,000 followed through to purchase the coverage.

Exchange officials believe a similar percentage — if not higher — will end up purchasing plans this year.

The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that about 8.8 million people signed up for health insurance through the federal government’s website, Healthcare.gov, used by states that don’t run their own exchanges. That’s less than the 12.2 million who signed up a year earlier.

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The Trump administration reduced the Healthcare.gov enrollment period by a month and slashed the advertising budget for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) from $100 million to $10 million. Adding to the confusion, Congress twice tried and failed to repeal the ACA last year, and Trump ordered and end to subsidy payments to insurers that had reduced out-of-pocket costs for patients.

Consumers across the country also faced rising insurance rates, attributed largely to the continued effort to repeal the ACA.

Washington state runs its own exchange and website so was able to keep enrollment open through mid-January compared to the federal cutoff of Dec. 15.

The year-over-year increase is…

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