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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Democrats’ big investments in the Affordable Care Act appear to be paying off.

Driving the news: Almost 1 million Americans have signed up for ACA coverage since February, roughly half of them in April alone, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said yesterday.

Why it matters: The strong enrollment numbers could help Democrats make the case that some of their changes to the ACA should become permanent.

  • "The success of the ACA enrollment period has significance for the people who get newly covered or see their premiums or deductibles go down. It also has political significance for the Biden Administration, looking to build support for a permanent increase in premium subsidies," KFF executive vice president Larry Levitt tweeted.

What's happening: In its early days, the Biden administration created a special enrollment period that allows people to sign up for ACA coverage until the end of April.

  • And a temporary expansion of the ACA's premium subsidies, passed as part of coronavirus relief legislation, kicked in April 1.

By the numbers: The bigger subsidies have saved Americans a lot of money, according to CMS.

  • People who enrolled after April 1 are paying, on average, 25% less in premiums than people who signed up in February or March. Deductibles were about 90% lower for people who signed up after the bigger subsidies took effect.
  • About 2 million people have seen their premiums fall after going back through the system to recalculate their costs after April 1, CMS said. The average savings for that group was 40%.

What's next: The premium bump lasts for two years, but the Biden administration is looking to make it permanent.

What they're saying: "It’s not just large numbers, it’s increasingly large numbers and ... it’s also validating what we always knew: That affordability was a primary barrier to people uninsured and other people who require care," Democratic health strategist Chris Jennings tells Axios.

Go deeper

Aug 11, 2021 - Health

Medicare has become more of a private marketplace — and it's costly

Data: Medicare Trustees reports; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Medicare's open enrollment will kick off in two months, leading to the health insurance industry's annual marketing blitz that entices seniors with Medicare Advantage plans that tout capped out-of-pocket costs, vision and dental benefits, and fitness classes.

Why it matters: Medicare Advantage continued to grow during the pandemic, and it's increasingly likely a majority of all Medicare enrollees will be in private plans in a few years despite Medicare Advantage's deep, longstanding problems.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

German election: Social Democrats narrowly beat Angela Merkel's bloc

SPD leader Olaf Scholz. Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

BERLIN — The center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP) clinched a narrow victory in Germany's historic federal elections on Sunday, just four years after suffering its worst loss since World War II.

Why it matters: It's a stunning political comeback for the SPD, paving the way for its chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz to form a new governing coalition and lead Europe's largest economy into the post-Merkel era.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Liz Cheney: Americans deserve better than choice of Biden or Trump

Rep. Liz Cheney talks with Lesley Stahl on CBS' "60 Minutes." Photo: CBS News

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) told CBS' "60 Minutes" in an interview broadcast Sunday that Americans "deserve better than having to choose between" President Biden's "disastrous" policies and former President Trump, "who violated his oath of office."

Why it matters: Cheney made the remarks after CBS' Lesley Stahl put it to her in the interview that Republicans feel that her joining the House select committee in charge of investigating the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot helps "keep the focus on Trump instead of on the shortcomings of the Biden administration."