Report: Only 6 People Enrolled in Obamacare on First Day

Image: Report: Only 6 People Enrolled in Obamacare on First Day

Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 10:27 PM

By Greg Richter

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Only six people signed up for Obamacare through the federal exchanges on the first day of operations, CBS News reports.

The website set up for people without employer-sponsored health plans repeatedly locked people out from the moment it went online on Oct. 1.

Congressional Republicans and members of the media have asked Health and Human Services officials how many people have signed up, but have been told figures won't be available until mid-November, when they can be compiled for the entire month.

But a document subpoena from the House Oversight Committee was able to find that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services held "war room" meetings twice a day as the website rolled out.

The documents, which also were obtained by CBS, show that only six people had successfully signed up on the first day. By the middle of the second day about 100 had signed up, and by the last meeting on Oct. 2, 248 had enrolled nationally.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has told "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart  and CNN's Sanjay Gupta she didn't know precise figures. CMS chief Marilyn Tavenner likewise provided no figures when she testified before the House Ways and Means Committee this week.

Instead, Sebelius and the White House have said millions of Americans have looked at the site and hundreds of thousands have created accounts. The White House said the website had 4.7 million unique visitors the first day.

Critics have speculated that actual sign-ups have not been released because the number is embarrassingly low.

The documents obtained by the Oversight Committee clearly show that exact numbers were available from launch. The phrase "Statistics coming in" is included in notes of the first meeting on Oct. 2. "(Contractor) QSSI has a daily dashboard created every night."

Contacted Thursday by CBS News, HHS still said it had no concrete figures, explaining that the numbers may not include other methods of signing up, such as with paper applications. The White House told Fox News the numbers are not official.

"These appear to be notes, they do not include official enrollment statistics," Sebelius' spokeswoman Joanne Peters told Fox News.

Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly expressed surprise at the figure.

"There are more people in this room than signed up for Obamacare on Day One," she said.

Up to 7 million uninsured people are expected to sign up through the exchanges. Open enrollment ends March 31, but people have to sign up by Dec. 15 to have coverage on Jan. 1.

Jonathan Gruber, the MIT professor who advised the state of Massachusetts and the federal government on their universal healthcare plans, told CNN that Massachusetts' plan, dubbed "Romneycare," started slow as well, and predicted numbers would pick up.

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