Topics: Barack Obama

President: Obamacare enrollments 'close to 4 million'

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health Care,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Health Care Exchanges

President Obama on Thursday said that enrollments in Obamacare's health insurance exchanges were nearing 4 million, a rise from last week's reported 3.3 million tally.

“Right now, we’ve already got close to 4 million Americans who have signed up for exchanges,” the president said in an address to the Democratic Governors Association dinner in Washington.

The new figure comes just days after Vice President Joe Biden suggested that the administration would fall short of their 7 million enrollment target by the March 31 open enrollment deadline.

The healthcare.gov website was launched in October with numerous technical glitches that undercut enrollment and weakened support for Obama's signature domestic achievement. But the administration has sidestepped questions about whether they would reach their targets, saying only that their goal is to sign up as many consumers as they can.

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services said that 3.3 million had signed up through federal and state exchanges through Feb. 1. But the administration has also failed to disclose the number of consumers who have paid their first month's exchanges, leading critics to argue that the actual number of insured could be far less.

The enrollment drive is also falling short of targets for signing up the younger, healthier consumers needed to keep the exchanges afloat and offset older, sicker patients expected to join.

“We've got 3 million Americans who were able to stay on their parents' plan because of the law. We've got close to 7 million Americans who have access to health care for the first time because of Medicaid expansion,” Obama added, touting the law's enrollment.

“So we’ve already got well over 10 million Americans just in the first few months, despite problems with healthcare.gov in the first month and a half, who suddenly have the financial security that in some cases they’ve never known before,” he said.

The rocky rollout of the online exchanges left the administration with a tough challenge to meet their enrollment targets.

Biden on Tuesday, meeting with people who had benefitted from the health law or were working to help enroll consumers, acknowledged that the administration might not hit 7 million.

"We may not get to seven million, we may get to five or six, but that's a hell of a start," the vice president said.

The White House on Thursday sidestepped questions about Biden's remarks, with deputy press secretary Josh Earnest predicting a surge in younger enrollees in the coming weeks.

“We're not really focused on the optics,” he said. “What we're focused on is making sure that every single American can enjoy the benefits of this important law.”

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