Affordable Care Act Has Many Political And Legal Challenges Ahead

The federal health exchange website is live this week for window shopping and people will begin to purchase new health insurance there on Saturday. But the Affordable Care Act still has many political and legal challenges ahead.


It is open enrollment season for health insurance and the federal exchange starts its second year in business on Saturday. The politics of healthcare are a year-round affair, and NPR's national political correspondent, Mara Liasson, joins us now to talk about the Affordable Care Act and what we can expect from Washington and from the new Congress in the next few months. Hi, Mara.


SIEGEL: Let's start with the federal exchange. What should we be looking for as people start signing up?

LIASSON: Well, we need to see if the website actually works and the administration is working hard to make sure that happens. Yesterday we heard the administration downgrade expectations for the number of people they expect to sign-up this season. The Congressional Budget Office had originally predicted 13 million. Yesterday, HHS said 9 million. Critics say a-ha, that's because the program isn't popular. But on the other hand, it could mean that the hundreds of thousands of people that some assumed would be dropped from their employer's plans and dumped onto the exchanges hasn't happened. The real number, though - the most important number is not the number people who sign up this year, but the number of people who are still uninsured at the end of this process.

SIEGEL: Now, Obamacare - The Affordable Care act was front-and-center in the Republicans' campaign. Tell us about the political pressure on the new Republican majority to get something done about it.

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