White House press secretary Jay Carney on Monday downplayed initial projections that 7 million Americans would enroll in Obamacare by the end of March, even though administration figures previously touted the figure.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, among others, repeatedly touted the Congressional Budget Office projection as the metric by which the White House would define success for open enrollment in Obamacare.
Thanks to the problem-plagued rollout of the online marketplaces, though, the Obama administration faces an uphill battle in getting 7 million Americans signed up by March 31 -- the deadline to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.
And now President Obama's top spokesman is dismissing the significance of the goal altogether.
“There’s not some magic number,” Carney insisted.
“The makeup, the mix [of enrollees] ... is more important than the total number,” Carney added.
Republicans say the White House is again moving the goalposts for the president’s signature domestic achievement, looking to limit blowback that has damaged Obama’s public approval ratings.
The Obama administration says more than 2.1 million people have signed up for health plans through either federal or state exchanges — they can’t say, however, how many people have actually paid.
Carney instead pointed to the importance of the demographic makeup of new Obamacare enrollees. For the Affordable Care Act to work, the administration needs younger, healthier people to sign up to offset the health care costs of older, sicker Americans.
But Carney could not illuminate the demographic picture, either.
“Demographic data,” Carney said, “isn't available yet."