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

Nearly three-fourths of those who have purchased health insurance on HealthCare.gov since early December were people returning to the site after visiting in October and November, according to senior administration officials.

A survey on the federal website found that 73 percent of those who had completed enrollment in recent weeks said they had first come to the site in the previous two months, officials said. The Obama administration did not declare the site fully fixed until Dec. 1.

The officials touted the figure as evidence that people were giving HealthCare.gov a second chance after its disastrous launch, which had raised questions about whether frustrated consumers would abandon the sign-up process.

"I think we can definitively say that we just haven't seen that," one official said. "Folks have come back, and they're coming back in droves."

The White House wants to tell people in Alabama, Kansas, and Montana in very specific terms what repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean for them.

For example: 141,000 people in Alabama received free preventive care in 2011 and 2012 because of the law; 1.2 million people in Kansas who have pre-existing conditions no longer have to worry about being denied coverage; and more than 13,000 Montanans have received rebates from their insurance company through Obamacare's new rules.

The administration has always based its argument against repeal on those tangible benefits that people have and will receive, but Thursday's 50-state report (below) is an attempt to make that argument hit a little closer to home.

"It’s time for Republicans in Congress to stop refighting old political battles over health care, because the real cost of repeal will hit home for many hardworking American families," the White House said in a statement accompanying the new report.

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When the budget deal cleared the House last week, some might have mistakenly believed that the GOP's fever over Obamacare had at least slightly subsided. Implicit in its passage was a pledge that Republicans would not shut down the government -- again -- over the health care reform law.

And they (probably) won't. But that doesn't mean Congress has arrived at a kumbayah moment after which both sides will work to refine the law with fixes that might appeal to both sides.

No, the Republican repeal crusade isn't over. It's just taken another form.

"Legislating is certainly possible, but we don’t believe the law can be truly 'fixed' -- only scrapped entirely," Brendan Buck, the top spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told TPM. "Our focus will be on building the case for repeal through proper oversight."

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Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Wednesday that he would introduce a bill to repeal Obamacare and replace it with his own set of reforms.

It appears to be the first comprehensive health care reform legislation that McCain has introduced during his three decades in Congress. It is composed of conservative pet policies, such as tax credits for individuals and tort reform to stem medical malpractice lawsuits. The bill comes as Republicans attempt to beat back criticism that they don't have a viable alternative to the Affordable Care Act.

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California's Obamacare marketplace is enrolling 15,000 people a day, the Washington Post reported -- double the rate that the website was seeing in early December.

It's an indication of the burgeoning interest that Obamacare advocates were hoping for ahead of the Dec. 23 deadline to sign up for coverage that starts on Jan. 1. New York is enrolling 4,500 people per day, according to the Post, and Connecticut reported 1,400 enrollments daily.

No figures are available for HealthCare.gov and its 36 states, but the Obama administration did leak reports of nearly 30,000 enrollments in the first two days of December, more than the troubled federal site saw in all of October.

Health insurance companies will give people who have purchased a health plan through HealthCare.gov and its state counterparts until Jan. 10 to pay their first premium for coverage that starts on Jan. 1.

The extension gives consumers an additional 10 days to pay their first premiums and still have coverage with an effective date of Jan. 1.

America's Health Insurance Plans, the insurance industry's lobbying group, announced Wednesday that its members would voluntarily offer the extension. The Obama administration had previously asked insurers to consider offering an extension beyond the current Dec. 31 deadline to ensure that people's coverage would start on time despite problems with HealthCare.gov.

“Our community is taking an important step to give consumers greater peace of mind about their health care coverage,” AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni said in a statement.

AHIP also said in the release that while there have been improvements to HealthCare.gov's back-end, more work needed to be done to prevent insurers from receiving missing or incomplete enrollment information.

Asked to explain a Republican alternative to Obamacare in an interview with CNBC on Tuesday, Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-OH) managed to contradict himself within a span of about 90 seconds.

Wenstrup began by describing the House Republican Study Committee's bill, which he co-sponsored. That bill would give people tax deductions to purchase health insurance on their own rather than relying on employer-provider coverage, which accounts for the largest share of the market (48 percent). It also lacks support from House GOP leadership, which hasn't allowed it to come to a vote.

"We would like individuals to be able to get a tax deduction by purchasing insurance on their own," Wenstrup said. "That way it gives them much more portability. They can go from job to job and keep their insurance."

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Three Republican senators introduced a bill Wednesday that would require the Obama administration to disclosure 2015 health insurance prices under Obamacare prior to the 2014 election.

It's a direct counterpoint to the administration's decision last month to postpone the next Obamacare open enrollment period until after the election -- which has the side effect of preventing people from seeing their new 2015 premiums until after they've cast their votes. Republicans immediately criticized the move as a political ploy.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), and John Barrasso (R-WY) would aim to reverse the delay by requiring that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services release premium cost information in mid-October -- one month before open enrollment is now scheduled to begin.

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Last week, with two high-profile acquisitions, a conservative media company catapulted itself from successful but largely below-the-radar company to a player with a portfolio that could make it the next news empire on the right.

Salem Communications, which got its start in the 1980s in talk radio, formally announced its purchase of Twitchy, the conservative social media tracker founded and run by Michelle Malkin. It also reportedly finalized a deal to acquire Red State, best known for the punditry of its editor-in-chief Erick Erickson, and several affiliated properties in January. Both moves were first reported by BuzzFeed. (Politico had earlier reported that Salem was "in talks" to make the purchase).

The acquisitions marry RedState -- inextricably linked to its editor-in-chief, who has said, among other things, that female breadwinners are antithetical to nature -- and Twitchy, which trolls Twitter for viral fodder like #MeninistTwitter, with Salem and its vast radio empire that includes the official radio program of the United States Concealed Carry Association.

In the insular world of conservative media, those are a pair of mammoth additions in less than a week. And in the eyes of Salem's competitors, it could spark an arms race of acquisitions. The kind of media ownership consolidation that some on the right decry in the mainstream media seems to be now seeping into their world as well. Small scrappy start-ups are suddenly being swallowed up by more established corporations with a lot of money to spend.

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A top Microsoft executive is set to take over as head of HealthCare.gov, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Tuesday.

Kurt DelBene, currently head of the Microsoft Office division, will succeed Jeff Zients, who President Obama tapped following the website's disastrous launch. He will start Wednesday.

DelBene will officially be a senior advisor to Sebelius and work alongside Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator Marilyn Tavenner, Sebelius wrote in a blog post. He has agreed to serve in the position for at least the first half of 2014.

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