The tally is 400,000 signups shy of the 2017 total, meaning insurers in dozens of states that use the federal HealthCare.gov website didn't see the influx of consumers needed to improve the law's economic footing.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said Thursday it spent "just over $1 per enrollee on outreach and education for Exchange coverage compared to almost $11 per enrollee a year ago". "Despite [President Donald] Trump declaring Obamacare dead just yesterday and all of his administration's efforts to undermine enrollment this year, we saw record demand and enrollments", she said.
That compares to 9.2 million past year in the same states - or 96 percent of the previous total.
Despite all that, more than 1 million new customers signed up last week, ahead of a December 15 deadline for HealthCare.gov.
First word of the enrollment numbers came via Twitter from Seema Verma, head of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Eleven states, plus D.C., run their own exchanges, and a lot of them are giving customers extra time to enroll - in some cases until January 31. Overall enrollment in 2018 could end up on par with 2017's figure of 12.2 million, which would keep the markets stabilized in the short term.
McConnell said that by including a repeal of ObamaCare's mandate that most individuals have health insurance in Republicans' sweeping rewrite of the tax code, which passed both chambers this week, the GOP had already taken the "heart" out of the health-care law.
The rest of the law, including subsidies for most of the people who buy insurance on the exchanges, will remain in place.
And yet it was a year when Obamacare was featured prominently in the news for months as Republicans tried and ultimately failed to repeal it.
Senator John Thune, the No. 3 Senate Republican, also said he hoped there would be a bipartisan deal but said another option is trying to find 50 votes for a modified version of the Graham-Cassidy repeal bill. She explained that she is supportive of tax cut only and only if Senate Leader Mitch McConnell become supportive of two other bills stabilizing the markets.
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