Dylan Scott

Dylan Scott is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. He previously reported for Governing magazine in Washington, D.C., and the Las Vegas Sun. His work has been recognized with a 2013 American Society of Business Publication Editors award for Best Feature Series and a 2010 Associated Press Society of Ohio award for Best Investigative Reporting. He can be reached at dylan@talkingpointsmemo.com.

Articles by Dylan

Donna received the letter canceling her insurance plan on Sept. 16. Her insurance company, LifeWise of Washington, told her that they'd identified a new plan for her. If she did nothing, she'd be covered.

A 56-year-old Seattle resident with a 57-year-old husband and 15-year-old daughter, Donna had been looking forward to the savings that the Affordable Care Act had to offer.

But that's not what she found. Instead, she'd be paying an additional $300 a month for coverage. The letter made no mention of the health insurance marketplace that would soon open in Washington, where she could shop for competitive plans, and only an oblique reference to financial help that she might qualify for, if she made the effort to call and find out.

Otherwise, she'd be automatically rolled over to a new plan -- and, as the letter said, "If you're happy with this plan, do nothing."

If Donna had done nothing, she would have ended up spending about $1,000 more a month for insurance than she will now that she went to the marketplace, picked the best plan for her family and accessed tax credits at the heart of the health care reform law.

"The info that we were sent by LifeWise was totally bogus. Why the heck did they try to screw us?" Donna said. "People who are afraid of the ACA should be much more afraid of the insurance companies who will exploit their fear and end up overcharging them."

Donna is not alone.

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President Obama wasn't entirely right in 2009 when he said that if you like your health care plan, then you can keep it. Some people are going to have their health insurance plans canceled, and it does have something to do with Obamacare.

From a political standpoint, that's enough to ignite a firestorm. From a policy standpoint, there's a whole lot more going on here.

What really matters is what happens to the people who are receiving those cancelation letters that congressional Republicans have been parading in front of the cameras?

The bottom line: Almost all of them are going to receive the same or much better coverage, and many of them are going to receive financial help to purchase it.

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Thursday is the deadline for members of Congress to designate which of their staff is "official" -- and therefore required to purchase health insurance through the Obamacare insurance marketplace run by the District of Columbia.

A provision in the Affordable Care Act mandated that members and their staff to sign up for coverage on the marketplace, rather than continue to receive employer insurance through the federal government. A memo from the Office of Personnel Management said that members could decide who on their staff is "official" (and must therefore go onto the marketplace) and who is not (and can continue to receive regular employer insurance).

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With House Republicans and media figures alike berating President Obama for failing to fulfill a promise made four years ago, the president tried to set the record straight during a Wednesday rally in Boston.

"This has been the latest flurry in the news because there's been a lot of confusion and misinformation," Obama said. "I want to explain just what's going on."

"Anyone peddling the notion that insurers are canceling peoples' plan without mentioning that almost all the insurers are encouraging people to join better plans with the same carrier and stronger benefits and stronger protections while others will be able to get better plans with new carriers through the marketplace and that many will get new help to pay for these better plans and make them actually cheaper," he said. "If you leave that stuff out, you're being grossly misleading, to say the least."

NBC News produced what they billed (and Republicans seized on) as a blockbuster report this week: The administration has known for years that what Obama promised Americans in 2009 -- "If you like your health plan, you can keep it" -- wasn't exactly true.

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In a rally Wednesday at Boston's Faneuil Hall to promote Obamacare, President Obama singled out two states he lost in the 2012 election -- Arkansas and Kentucky -- for their efforts to implement the Affordable Care Act.

"Keep in mind, I did not win in Kentucky. But there are a lot of uninsured people in Kentucky and they're signing up," Obama said while touting the law in Boston. "Arkansas, I didn't win that state either. Covered almost 1 percent of its uninsured already. That's already happened."

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If it wasn't already quite clear, House Republicans removed any doubt at Wednesday's hearing with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius about whether they are actually interested in fixing HealthCare.gov after its troubled rollout.

They aren't. They're looking for any and all means to continue their fight to stop Obamacare.

That's why they spent as much time at Wednesday's hearing grilling Sebelius about President Obama's promise that Americans who like their health plan can keep it as they did inquiring about the problems with the website -- even though the latter was ostensibly the hearing's purpose.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius indicated Wednesday that the Obama administration will not extend Obamacare's open enrollment period because of HealthCare.gov's troubled rollout.

"At this point, congressman, they will have a full four months," Sebelius said at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing. "The open enrollment period is extraordinarily long. It's about six times as long as a typical generous open enrollment period. And it's important for the insurance partners to know who is in their pool so again they can stay in the market next year and know who they are insuring."

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