EXCLUSIVE: Just 51,000 people completed Obamacare applications during the website’s first week, out of tens of millions of Americans in 36 states
- Obamacare’s main signup engine attracted just 6,200 new customers on its launch day and 51,000 after the first week
- At the same rate, the 6-month open enrollment period would sign up just 2 million Americans, including 14 states and D.C., which have their own insurance exchanges
- The Congressional Budget Office says Obamacare needs at least 7 million customers to stay afloat financially
- Numerous Obama administration officials have denied seeing any enrollment figures at all
- MailOnline‘s sources are two Health and Human Services workers who have access to the data as it’s crunched
- Texas congressman says anemic national enrollment numbers are ‘roughly the population of a small town in my district’
By DAVID MARTOSKO, U.S. POLITICAL EDITOR
Just 51,000 people completed Obamacare applications during the first week the Healthcare.gov website was online, according to two sources inside the Department of Health and Human Services who gave MailOnline an exclusive look at the earliest enrollment numbers.
The career civil servants, who process data inside the agency, confirmed independently that just 6,200 Americans applied for health insurance through the problem-plagued website on October 1, the day it first opened to the public.
Neither HHS nor the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services would comment on the record about the numbers. Enroll America, the president’s organization of health care ‘navigators’ who are charged with helping Americans sign up, didn’t reply to a request for information about its level of success so far.
The White House also did not respond to emails seeking comment.
But several administration officials have claimed this month that they didn’t have access to the kinds of raw figures MailOnline obtained from the people who work for them. And the anemic totals suggest a far lower level of interest in coverage through the Affordable Care Act than the Obama administration has hoped to see.
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More than a week into the glitch-littered launch of the Obamacare insurance exchanges, MailOnline has learned that just 51,000 Americans have used Healthcare.gov to enroll
Organizing For Action, the latest incarnation of President Obama’s 2012 campaign organization, celebrated the Oct. 1 launch of the Obamacare exchanges in Lehigh, Pennsylvania, but the numbers so far have been nothing to celebrate
Texas Rep. Kevin Brady, a Republican who chairs the House Ways & Means Health Subcommittee, said that ‘if the numbers are accurate,’ they show ‘that relatively few people have navigated the challenges of the first step of the process – roughly the population of a small town in my district.’
‘The White House and HHS have continually claimed they did not have these figures,’ Brady told MailOnline. ‘If they do, they have misled the Congress and the American people.’
The low numbers also reflect a level of technological frustration on the part of Americans whose attempts to investigate their new health insurance options have been met with crashes, error messages and interminable delays.
CNN host Wolf Blitzer agreed on Wednesday that the White House should consider granting Republicans’ demands for a one-year delay of the rule requiring individual taxpayers to buy insurance, given the failings of the glitch-prone enrollment website that has produced more headaches than new customers.
‘If they weren’t fully ready, they should accept the advice that a lot of Republicans are giving them,’ Blitzer said. ‘Delay it another year, get it ready, and make sure it works’
‘I don’t know’: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on The Daily Show that she hadn’t seen Obamacare enrollment numbers
Obama was passionate on launch day, saying in a Rose Garden ceremony that millions of Americans would benefit from the Affordable Care Act. But so far those numbers have seemed far out of reach
White House unsure on Obamacare numbers
The open enrollment period for Obamacare coverage is slated to last for six months. If the first week’s total were an indication of how many Americans will sign up during that time through the Obama administration’s website, its final tally would reach a paltry 1.32 million.
Healthcare.gov provides enrollment services for Americans in 36 states; the remaining 14 states and the District of Columbia, which operate enrollment programs in their own exchanges, represent 33.7 per cent of the U.S. population, according to census projections.
If the state-run exchanges were to have a similar response rate for six months, the national enrollment total would be approximately 2 million.
That number is less than 29 per cent of the 7 million the Obama administration would need, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, in order to balance the new health insurance system’s books and keep it from financial collapse.
‘The administration’s goal is seven million people in the first year,’ Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist, a long-time Obamacare opponent, told MailOnline. ‘We are not on track for anything like seven million. New Coke was retired for being a smaller disappointment.’
‘There was no good reason to hide these number,’ he said. ‘This is not keeping a secret from the Russians or the Syrians. … Why lie about this, for crying out loud?’
‘These numbers reflect what we all know: Obamacare is a disaster,’ Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn told MailOnline. ‘It is time for the president to admit Obamacare is not working and that the American people deserve better.’
Spokespersons for five different Democratic senators declined to provide comment, with most saying they are paying greater attention to the debt-ceiling and government-shutdown standoffs that have gripped Washington, D.C. since before Oct. 1.
‘These numbers reflect what we all know,’ said Texas GOP Senator John Cornyn (C). ‘Obamacare is a disaster.’
Rep. Kevin Brady, an outspoken Texas Republcan, said everyone who has used the federal government’s website to enroll in Obamacare would fit in a single small town in his legislative district
House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee chair Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said the small enrollment numbers are a symptom of a larger problem.
‘Far more people have been unable to complete their applications because of crashing websites or impossible wait times than have successfully enrolled,’ said Issa. ‘Meanwhile, the clock is ticking and the window for open enrollment gets smaller every day.’
They’ve lost Wolf: CNN personality Wolf Blitzer, who seldom aligns himself with Republicans, said Wednesday that the White House should give Republicans the Obamacare delay they seek, if only to give tech issues time to sort themselves out
Issa said Wednesday during a committee hearing on Capitol Hill that ‘in just the past decade, the federal government cancelled at least fifteen major IT projects after wasting $10 billion on their development. But none of those costly mistakes were anywhere near as big or complex, as Obamacare.’
The White House aims to see the health care exchanges enroll at least 2.7 million young, healthy people between the ages of 18 and 35, whose monthly premiums are needed to offset the cost of health care for older, sicker Americans.
It’s unclear how many of the early enrollees fall in that age group.
A projected enrollment total of 2 million would also represent just 4 per cent of the overall number who could participate.
‘More than 50 million Americans qualify for the Obamacare exchanges,’ Americans for Limited Government vice president Rick Manning pointed out, claiming that ‘this paltry response is a clear rejection of the system.’
It remains possible, according to the sources who provided the enrollment data, that overall rates of enrollment will tick up after the much-maligned healthcare.gov website is retrofitted with technology fixes that allow more Americans to navigate it smoothly.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney drew criticism on Monday after he boasted that website response times were cut by one-third after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services implemented virtual ‘waiting rooms’ that allowed users to trickle in according to the load the government’s servers could handle.
Another flood of customers could hypothetically come in after Jan. 1, the sources said, if a significant number of private employers cancel their employee benefit plans and dump their workers into the Affordable Care Act’s health care exchanges.
Jon Stewart accuses Kathleen Sebelius of lying
‘You should ask HHS. I don’t have a number,’ said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Oct. 4, when reporters quizzed him on Obamacare enrollment numbers
Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said Sunday on Fox News that ‘it’s obviously not my primary area of responsibility’ to know how many Obamacare enrollees have clicked the error-prone ‘submit’ button
The availability of raw Obamacare enrollment numbers will come as an embarrassment to the Obama administration, since its public faces have insisted that such figures are unknown or unknowable.
Carney reiterated on Monday that the administration would ‘release enrollment data on regularly, monthly intervals.’
‘I’m not sure when that begins,’ he told reporters, ‘but I’m sure we’ll let you know in plenty of time so you can plan and put it on your calendar.’
‘The clock is ticking,’ says Rep. Darrell Issa, ‘and the window for open enrollment gets smaller every day’
That night, Comedy Central host Jon Stewart asked Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on ‘The Daily Show’ how many Americans had enrolled in Obamacare.
‘I can’t tell you,’ the secretary answered, ‘because I don’t know.’
An unnamed senior White House official told CNN host Jake Tapper on Monday that the administration would start releasing numbers after November 1, and would combine data from healthcare.gov with those from more than a dozen states that run their own health insurance exchanges, in order ‘to have a good picture of what’s happening across the country.’
Sen. Ted Cruz, the feisty tea party standard-bearer who led a lengthy quasi-filibuster last month that raised the profile of what Republicans say are Obamacare’s legal and philosophical shortcomings, said Thursday that ‘every day our concerns are validated as we learn more about how the law can’t deliver on its promises.’
‘The law has failed on every single measure,’ Cruz told MailOnline. ‘It does not make healthcare more affordable or accessible. It does the opposite.’
Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin said Thursday that the Obamacare enrollment numbers were unlikely to keep pace with the numbers of Americans who are losing their insurance as the program goes into effect.
‘Over 800,000 people in New Jersey alone have lost their current health insurance in the last month,’ Martin said, ‘yet nationwide only 51,000 people have received health insurance from Obamacare. The numbers just do not add up.’
Overlaid on top of Obamacare’s rocky launch has been a partial government shutdown whose broad personnel layoffs have compounded what was already a difficult rollout.
On Wednesday a press spokesperson who answered a Department of Health and Human Services press line told MailOnline to allow at least 24 hours for a comment – one which never came anyway.
‘We’re in furlough status right now, so we’re short-staffed,’ she said. ‘All our requests are going through email. Drop us a line, and if anyone’s available, they’ll get back to you.’
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