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Saturday November 25th, 2017 6:14AM

'Obamacare' sign-ups top 600k in first week

By The Associated Press
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The government says more than 600,000 people signed up for Affordable Care Act coverage in the first week of open enrollment season, and nearly 8 in 10 of those were current customers renewing their coverage.

About 23 percent were new consumers, according to figures released Thursday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The numbers are being closely watched because of the Trump administration's open disdain for the health insurance program enacted under former President Barack Obama.

So far, sign-ups seem to be running about the same pace as last year, despite Trump administration cutbacks in advertising and enrollment assistance for consumers. The numbers cover the period Nov 1-4.

The HealthCare.gov website serving 39 states is running smoothly.

Open enrollment ends much earlier this year, on Dec. 15.

Because sign-ups for states running their own health insurance markets are not included in the early data, overall national enrollment is guaranteed to be higher.

"It's quite clear that the ACA is still functioning, and functioning reasonably well," said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Sign-ups on a daily basis are up, he added, "but these numbers don't necessarily tell you whether enrollment is going to end up higher or lower."

Enacted under former President Barack Obama, the health care law offers subsidized private insurance to people who don't have coverage on the job. This year's enrollment numbers are being closely watched because of the Trump administration's disdain for the program.

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