By Jonathan Easley - 10/31/13 10:56 PM EDT
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released documents on Thursday that show there were only a trickle of successful enrollments in the federal healthcare exchanges in the days after the ObamaCare website went live on Oct. 1.
The statistics are taken from the minutes of “War Room” meetings between Obama administration officials, ObamaCare contractors and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency tasked with implementing the Affordable Care Act.
Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokeswoman Joanne Peters sought to downplay the veracity of the data.
“These appear to be notes, they do not include official enrollment statistics,” she said in an email to The Hill. “We will release enrollment statistics on a monthly basis after coordinating information from different sources such as paper, on-line, and call centers, verifying with insurers, and collecting data from states.”
The administration has repeatedly said it would not release statistics until next month. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner both declined to provide statistics to eager lawmakers in front of congressional panels earlier this week.
“We do not have any reliable data around enrollment, which is why we haven't given it to date,” Sebelius said at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday.
The administration has so far touted 700,000 applications to the marketplaces and the more than 20 million visitors to the HealthCare.gov website this month.
In addition, at a speech in Massachusetts on Wednesday, President Obama noted that that state’s healthcare exchange, implemented by then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R), had only 123 enrollees in the first month.
“As the Secretary said before Congress, we are focused on providing reliable and accurate information and we do not have that at this time due to the issues with 834 forms,” Peters continued. “We have always anticipated that the pace of enrollment will increase throughout the enrollment period.”
Still, the slow first days might confirm the fears of ObamaCare advocates that the broken website is affecting the pace of enrollees in the critical first months of the launch.