New Haven — Access Health CT, the state-run health insurance exchange created as part of the Affordable Care Act, celebrated a milestone Monday: Passing its self-imposed goal of signing up 100,000 residents and small businesses for health coverage.
“I think it has been a model for the nation in implementing the ACA,” said Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, chairwoman of the Access Health CT board. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
The self-congratulatory press conference at a walk-in enrollment center Access Health opened in downtown New Haven was an effort by the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to reinforce the local success of a program that has faltered nationally.
Malloy, Wyman, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, who voted for passage, and Kevin Counihan, Access Health’s chief executive officer, took turns asserting that the ACA is working, despite continued opposition by Republicans in Congress.
“I think we’ve reached another mark nationally, which is the realization that the ACA is here to stay. It’s going to be modified and changed as it needs, but we’re not going to see this thing repealed,” Counihan said.
Malloy said the enrollments in Connecticut have reached 121,983 customers, passing the 100,000-mark with seven weeks left in the open enrollment period that ends March 31.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment and, really, a momentous milestone to have reached,” Malloy said.
The enrollment figure includes 22,330 applicants who were found to be qualified for portions of the Medicaid program that existed before Jan. 1, when Medicaid eligibility expanded as part of the health law.
Counihan said he believes that the enrollments have lowered the percent of uninsured residents from 8.6 percent to less than 8 percent, but he cautioned that Access Health still was analyzing enrollment data to determine how many enrollees had been without health insurance.
One of the enrollees, Julia Santos of West Haven, told reporters that she had been unable to obtain health insurance after retiring because she had undergone open heart surgery August 13, 2012.
Sen. Kevin Kelly, R-Stratford, the ranking member of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee, said the celebration was premature.
“The governor’s announcement today touts an arbitrary goal. The number of total enrollees does not indicate what the exchange needs to reach self-sufficiency and we are still missing key pieces of data to properly assess the success of Access Health CT,” Kelly said. “Right now, we cannot tell if we are on track or in trouble.”