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POLITICS: PennAve

White House, Democrats tout 7 million Obamacare sign-ups

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Politics,Barack Obama,Obamacare,Health Care,Nancy Pelosi,PennAve,Susan Crabtree,Jay Carney

The White House and Democrats spent Tuesday taking an Obamacare victory lap, announcing that enrollment in the health law's insurance exchanges had exceeded their 7 million target by the March 31 deadline.

The figure marked a sharp turnaround for the administration's efforts after the troubled rollout of the healthcare.gov site in October.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., was the first to announce that the number of Obamacare enrollees had reached the administration’s target.

“We are very pleased that over 7 million people have enrolled in the marketplace,” Pelosi told reporters after a lunch meeting with President Obama at the White House, noting that the number was “unofficial.”

White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed the 7-million plus figure moments later during his press briefing, saying that 7,041,000 had signed up as of midnight on March 31.

“It's so heartwarming for those of us who had worked so hard for the passage of the health care law,” he said.

“We can say definitely that at midnight last night we surpassed everyone's expectations,” he added.

Carney said that the final figure could be higher, noting that the tally did not include numbers from many state-run exchanges. The administration is also allowing consumers who say they were unable to finish their applications additional time to enroll.

“When we get numbers in from the rest of the states and people who are trying to sign up by the deadline and are finishing now, even more people will be covered,” he said.

Carney touted the administration’s efforts and took at shot at Republicans, who have opposed the health law and questioned if the 7 million goal would be reached.

“Republicans have spent millions on false negative ads. They've blocked Medicaid expansion in dozens of states. They've shut down the government and voted over 50 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But that effort could not stop this law from working and it could not stop middle-class families from getting the health care security that they deserve,” he said.

Critics though question if the administration signed up enough young consumers to keep costs down. Some have also asked how many of those who enrolled were previously uninsured.

Republicans charge that new Obamacare regulations may have cost hundreds of thousands their current insurance plans.

Carney said the administration had “none of the breakdown data at this point.”

“The experts over at CMS and HHS will be working on that, both the demographics and the issue of the percentage that paid,” he added.

Despite the enrollment figures, Republicans vow to make the law a central issue in November’s midterms, citing polls that show that public support plummeted after healthcare.gov’s rocky rollout.

Obama is scheduled to make a statement on the Affordable Care Act sign-up figure at 4:15 p.m., and the White House released a photo of the president learning that the administration had reached its enrollment target.

“The systems we put in place worked, the demand for the product was there, and most importantly, millions of families are getting health care coverage,” Carney said.

This story was published at 2:04 p.m. and has been updated.

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