Record Number of New Affordable Care Act Signees

In this Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 photo, health care navigator Nancy Le talks with Michael Carter during a Community Council Affordable Care Act outreach in Dallas, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Health care advocacy groups are making an against-all-odds effort to sign people up despite confusion and hostility fostered by Republicans opposed to former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. Trying to get people signed up is especially challenging for enrollment counselors in Republican-led states that provide little if any help.   (AP Photo/LM Otero)

In this Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017 photo, health care navigator Nancy Le talks with Michael Carter during a Community Council Affordable Care Act outreach in Dallas, Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2017. Health care advocacy groups are making an against-all-odds effort to sign people up despite confusion and hostility fostered by Republicans opposed to former President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement. Trying to get people signed up is especially challenging for enrollment counselors in Republican-led states that provide little if any help. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

In a remarkably strong show of consumer demand, nearly 9 million people signed up for the Affordable Care Act next year, as government numbers out Thursday proved predictions of its collapse wrong yet again.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said more than 8.8 million people have signed up in the 39 states served by the federal HealthCare.gov website. That compares to 9.2 million last year in the same states — or 96 percent of the previous total. The level exceeds what experts thought was possible after another year of political battles over the Affordable Care Act, not to mention market problems like rising premiums and insurer exits. On top of that, the Trump administration cut enrollment season in half, slashed the ad budget, terminated major payments to insurers, and scaled back grants for consumer counselors.

“This level of enrollment is truly remarkable, especially given the headwinds faced by the program,” said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

President Donald Trump insistently predicted the Affordable Care Act would implode as he pursued unsuccessful efforts to repeal it in Congress. This week he incorrectly declared the GOP tax bill had essentially repealed it.