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House votes for weekly health exchange enrollment reports


The House of Representatives on Thursday approved on a 259-154 vote legislation that would require weekly public disclosure of enrollment figures in public health insurance exchanges.

Backers of the legislation, H.R. 3362, said during the House floor debate that enrollment information is needed to assess how exchanges — a key feature of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — are working.

“It is simply a matter of transparency. Regular disclosure is necessary to assess the status of the law,” said Rep. Joseph Pitts, R-Pa.

But opponents of the legislation said they did not see any benefit of increasing the frequency of enrollment reports.

“There is no benefit to the general public,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., said.

Earlier, the Obama administration criticized the measure as costly and unnecessary.

“To implement this new reporting system, contracts may need to be modified, and new staff would need to be hired on an expedited basis, adding millions of dollars in costs to states and the federal government, without additional funding from the Congress, for information that is already largely being provided on a monthly basis, consistent with other publicly funded health care programs,” the administration said last week in a statement.

In the most recent report, released earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said nearly 2.2 million individuals had enrolled in plans offered through the exchanges as of Dec. 28. That compares with enrollment of just under 365,000 through the end of November.

The report covers enrollment in the District of Columbia and the 14 states that offer exchanges, as well as in the 36 states in which either the federal government operates the exchanges because those states declined to do so or HHS operates the exchanges in partnership with those states.

HHS has been releasing enrollment information monthly since the Oct. 1 launch of the exchanges.