We noted yesterday that Obamacare enrollment hit the 6 million mark. Conservatives have been claiming for months that there was no way that enrollment would reach the Congressional Budget Office’s original estimate of 7 million. It now sounds like there’s a pretty good chance that will happen this year, if a few months late (with the help of the decision announced earlier this week to give people more time to sign up). Brian Beutler over at Salon writes:

Putting it out there now: By May 1, enrollment in ACA-compliant health plans through federally facilitated and state-based exchanges will hit the symbolic 7 million mark, and conservatives will whine that it doesn’t count because something something. …

One way to infer that the extension is good policy is that conservatives responded with a familiar ritual: First, mockery; next, unsupported claims of lawlessness or unconstitutionality…

[T]here can be no mistaking the outrage for principled commitment to process in this case. A bunch more people will be getting insurance, the law will become more deeply rooted, and to conservatives, that is an atrocity.

Two quick points: the de facto extension offered by the Department of Health and Human Services is not some lawless executive overreach. The “special enrollment period” employed by HHS is explicitly in the law. Also, as many have pointed out, extending enrollment deadlines during the complicated rollout of a health care law is hardly unique to the Obama administration — eight years later, the Bush administration’s delays (and decision to waive penalties for some) are a footnote in the history of the Medicare prescription drug benefit.


Now, ultimately these big nationwide enrollment numbers are not all that meaningful. Moreover, this is no occasion for football-spiking, particularly in a state like Arkansas where many of the uninsured who make too much to qualify for the private option remain uncovered. But given the real catastrophe of the healthcare.gov rollout, the big picture on enrollment is looking positive. People are signing up. It appears that the law is beginning to reduce the number of people without insurance in this country. That’s a good thing.