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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

You probably hear a lot of numbers about Obamacare: 6 million people have enrolled since October, but wasn't it supposed to be 7 million? How many states are using HealthCare.gov? How much is all of this going to cost?

To make things simpler as the law's first open enrollment period comes to a close, here are the numbers you should know to understand Obamacare.

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Looks pretty bad, doesn't it? According to this Fox News graphic, Obamacare enrollment is falling far short of the pre-launch goals. It's not even close.

Of course, that's because their graphic wizards have obliterated any semblance of proportion to make it look like 6 million is somehow one-third of 7 million.

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After a disastrous opening act for its Obamacare marketplace, Maryland is planning to start over from scratch as soon as the first enrollment period ends Monday.

The Washington Post reported that the Maryland marketplace's board will vote Tuesday to hire the firm that built Connecticut's website and bring its technology platform to Maryland.

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About 9.5 million Americans who were previously uninsured have gotten health coverage under Obamacare, according to a new analysis.

The Los Angeles Times reported the number, which combines data from an unpublished study by RAND Corp. with other publicly available figures. It's one of the most comprehensive efforts yet to asses the law's impact on the uninsured as open enrollment comes to a close.

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How much will Obamacare cost?

The law's first open enrollment period (more or less) ends Monday. With it will undoubtedly come much debate about whether it succeeded in signing up enough people. For the time being, that's largely irrelevant. Check back in three years to determine if the insurance market is sustainable, affordable and providing health coverage to the uninsured.

But how the 2014 market shakes out -- and how it affects the 2015 market and beyond -- will help determine the answer to a question that neither party seems all that interested in exploring: How much will Obamacare, at least in the form of tax subsidies that help pay for coverage, actually cost?

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The last few times that the Obama administration has released a new Obamacare enrollment report or announced a new enrollment milestone, a familiar chorus has come up from the right: Those numbers aren't quite right.

It happened again Thursday when the White House proclaimed six million people had signed up for private coverage under the law.

The origin of the criticsm is based in very legitimate questions about the numbers: How many of those people paid their first premium, formally initiating their new coverage? How many were previously uninsured, rather than previously insured people who just moved over to a new plan?

But those are questions the Obama administration says it isn't able to answer yet. Premiums are paid directly to the insurance companies, and the administration says it doesn't yet have accurate information about how many people have paid them. The online application on HealthCare.gov doesn't include a question about an applicant's prior insurance status, which makes that metric difficult to track.

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Of the many ways Republicans might target Obamacare if they win the Senate this fall, at least one should have a decent chance of earning the approval of the White House: repealing the law's employer mandate.

The employer mandate is supposed to require companies with more than 50 employees to provide health coverage to their workers or pay a fine. It's unpopular with the business community, though the general public supports it.

If the GOP held the House and the Senate, insiders expect the employer mandate to be a likely target for their anti-Obamacare agenda. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), in line to assume control of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, has already introduced a repeal bill this Congress.

"If things were to turn, if Republicans were to take a simple majority, I think this would be one of the top things that Republicans would look at," Amanda Austin, health policy expert for the National Federation of Independent Businesses, one of the groups involved in the lawsuit to overturn Obamacare and one major force behind the repeal effort, told TPM.

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In what must be considered a victory for the little-known but very real knife rights movement, the Tennessee legislature has repealed the state's ban on switchblades.

The Associated Press reported that switchblades and knives longer than four inches had been included on a state list of weapons that could not been knowingly possessed or sold. The legislation removed that prohibition and doubled the maximum fine for using a switchblade while committing a felony.

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A group of moderate Senate Democrats, including several in tough reelection races this fall, proposed Thursday a package of "fixes" to the Affordable Care Act.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Mary Landrieu (LA), Mark Begich (AK), Mark Warner (VA), Joe Manchin (WV) and Angus King (I-ME) released the proposals in tandem, along with a co-written op-ed in Politico. Begich and Landrieu have particularly tough reelection bids, already taking a hammering from conservative groups for their support of Obamacare.

"As I have said from the beginning, the Affordable Care Act is not perfect," Landrieu said in a statement. "No law is. That is why I am happy to join with several of my colleagues to put forth some ideas to make it work even better. I hope some, if not all of these, suggestions will gain support from Republicans and Democrats to become law."

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