When it came out that the Dept. of Health and Human Services was, for at least the time being, discontinuing the monthly exchange enrollment reports, Cato’s Michael Cannon said “HHS Has Lost Their Minds.”
There is a case to be made for that. As Cannon notes:
[Charles] Gaba offers several reasons why HHS should keep issuing (at least) monthly enrollment figures. Even though the “open enrollment” period for the Exchanges has closed, Native Americans and those with “qualifying life events” can enroll at any time. Medicaid and SHOP Exchange enrollment are also year-round. People can also dis-enroll throughout the year for all sorts of reasons.
But from a political perspective, it makes a lot of sense. Assuming that the higher ups in the Obama Administration approved this move by HHS (a pretty safe assumption), it is a move that benefits the Democrats in the November election. Without more enrollment reports, it will be much harder to challenge the “8 million people enrolled in the exchanges” talking point.
Preserving that talking point may seem like a desperate move, but Obama and the Democrats don’t have much else. All the reporting on rate shock and deductible shock has torpedoed any claim that costs on the exchange are better. Coverage on “skinny networks” has deprived ObamaCare supporters of the argument that the quality of exchange plans are better. The enrollment number is all they’ve got left.
And even that might not work. Every time Democrats bring up the 8 million figure in the fall, the media might point out that we don’t know the actual number since HHS discontinued the reports. On the other hand, the Obama Administration is probably gambling that the press won’t push that line too much, and history suggests the odds on that are good.
Discontinuing the reports is deceptive and unethical. Unfortunately, it may also be good politics.