Dec 23, 2016

Obamacare signups surge in going-out-of-business sale

Obamacare enrollment for next year now stands at 6.4 million people -- roughly 400,000 more than at this time last year, according to a government report released Wednesday. That could suggest a rush to sign up for coverage now that the law is likely to be repealed, but Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell reported that more than 30,000 callers have asked whether they should even bother.

The answer, she told reporters, is yes. Obamacare is the law of the land, Burwell said, and any Obamacare coverage people buy is "a contract for 2017" that will be honored. She acknowledged, however, that the signup duties will switch to the Trump administration shortly before open enrollment ends Jan. 31 -- so all the Obama administration can do is offer to help the Trump team and hope the handoff goes well.

Between the lines: The Obama administration has to run up the score -- not just because a high enrollment number is a better talking point against repeal, but because they'd already promised insurers a better mix of healthy and sick people. The signups include roughly 2 million new customers and 4.3 million renewals.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 5,945,711— Total deaths: 365,535 — Total recoveries — 2,516,951Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 a.m. ET: 1,747,087 — Total deaths: 102,836 — Total recoveries: 406,446 — Total tested: 16,099,515Map.
  3. Economy: America's unfinished business.
  4. Supreme Court: Chief Justice Roberts sides with liberals in denying challenge to California's pandemic worship rules.
  5. Public health: Hydroxychloroquine prescription fills exploded in March.
  6. 2020: North Carolina asks RNC if convention will honor Trump's wish for no masks or social distancing.
  7. Business: Fed chair Powell says coronavirus is "great increaser" of income inequality.

America's unfinished business

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The fury over George Floyd's killing is erupting as the U.S. faces a looming wave of business bankruptcies, likely home evictions and a virus pandemic that will all disproportionately hit African Americans.

Why it matters: What these seemingly disparate issues share in common is that they emanate from systemic abuses that calls to action and promised reforms have yet to meaningfully address.

Deaths without consequences

Community organizations and activists demand police accountability at a rally in Grand Central Terminal to commemorate the 5-year anniversary of Mike Brown's death by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. Photo: Erik McGregor/Getty Images

Seven years after the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, it's still rare for police officers to be charged in the deaths of African Americans — and even more rare for an officer to go to jail.

The big picture: The Minneapolis police officer who was captured on video kneeling on George Floyd's neck has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter — which is already a step beyond the consequences other police officers have faced. But it's no guarantee that he will face jail time.