Sebelius Denies 7 Million Was Obamacare's Target

Wednesday, 26 Feb 2014 09:56 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius said Tuesday that the administration never had a 7 million enrollment target for Obamacare, backtracking on comments she made last year volunteering that figure.

"First of all, 7 million was not the administration. That was a CBO, Congressional Budget Office prediction when the bill was first signed," Sebelius said in an interview with HuffPost Live.

"I'm not quite sure where they even got their numbers. Their numbers are all over the board, and the vice president has looked and said it may be closer to 5 to 6."

The comments appear to contradict what she told NBC News the day before the launch of the troubled healthcare site last fall when she said that "success," in her opinion, would be having 7 million Americans enrolled in the Obamacare exchanges by the end of March.

"I think success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014," Sebelius told NBC's Nancy Snyderman on Sept. 30.

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Last June Sebelius also volunteered the figure, telling reporters, "We're hopeful that 7 million is a realistic target." 

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer blasted Sebelius in an interview Tuesday on Fox News' "Special Report with Bret Baier."

"Of course, she was the one that said it, among others," he said. "You know, it's an old rule, 'say the truth, it's easier to memorize.'"

Krauthammer also reacted to the latest Obamacare enrollment numbers released Tuesday by the administration which confirmed that 4 million people had now signed up for the new healthcare program.

"It will usually come out in the middle of the next month except when the secretary steps all over herself and makes bad news, so you want to trump it with a nice number, a round number which comes out in the middle of a week," Krauthammer said.

This is not the first time the administration tried to backtrack on the 7 million figure. White House healthcare policy adviser Phil Schiliro said in December that attracting 7 million enrollees to Obamacare by March was never the administration's goal.

"That figure was put out by the Congressional Budget Office in March, and was never our target number," he told NBC News at the time.


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