Sebelius set to release O-Care enrollment

The Obama administration appears poised to release enrollment figures for the new healthcare marketplaces on Wednesday afternoon.

Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius will make a rare appearance on a Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services conference call with reporters at 3:30 pm EST.

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The administration has said the figures will be released this week, but White House spokesman Jay Carney was again asked for the numbers at a briefing with reporters on Wednesday.

“I do not have that information but I believe that CMS will have an announcement later today,” Carney said.

“I can only tell you that we fully expect the numbers will be even lower than anticipated because of the significant challenges caused by the website,” he added. “I would refer you to CMS and the briefing they will give on the numbers when they present them."

According to a Wall Street Journal report this week, fewer than 50,000 people have successfully purchased healthcare coverage through the error-ridden HealthCare.gov enrollment site.

The administration has said it always expected enrollment to be slow in the opening months, and expect a flurry of young and healthy enrollees ahead of the March 31 deadline.

Sebelius has testified that the data provided by the CMS would break down the numbers by how many have enrolled in the state and federal exchanges, and how many have gone into Medicaid or private plans.

The administration has said it will include in its figures of successful enrollees those that have selected a plan but not yet made a payment. Conservatives have framed this as an effort to boost the initial figures.