By Jonathan Easley - 11/06/13 12:48 PM EST
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen SebeliusKathleen SebeliusThe chaotic fight for ObamaCare California exchange CEO: Insurers ‘throwing ObamaCare under the bus’ Sebelius: 'Repugnant' for states to reject Medicaid expansion MORE acknowledged on Wednesday that the initial enrollment numbers through the new healthcare exchanges will be “quite low.” [WATCH VIDEO]
In testimony to the Senate Finance Committee, Sebelius said “the struggles people have had getting access to the site” will contribute to a disappointing first month and a half.
The administration has faced growing calls to provide enrollment figures, which it has so far refused to disclose, saying the early stages of enrollment make it impossible to provide reliable or accurate data.
On Tuesday, Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services administrator Marilyn Tavenner said the agency will publish Affordable Care Act enrollment data next week.
In her testimony, Tavenner said she hoped to have 800,000 enrollees by the end of November, but didn’t say whether that number includes new Medicaid and state exchange enrollees, or rather was the amount she hoped to get through the federal exchanges.
Sebelius on Wednesday said next week’s data 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 HHS had previously refused to say how the numbers would be presented. A single sign-up number would have provided little insight into how the enrollment effort is proceeding because it would also include Medicaid enrollments that aren’t moving through the federal ObamaCare portal.
House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released documents last week showing there was only a trickle of successful enrollments in the federal healthcare exchanges in the days after the ObamaCare website went live on Oct. 1.
The documents show six enrollments on the morning of Oct. 2; 100 by that afternoon; and 248 on the morning of Oct. 3.
The administration has noted that the Massachusetts healthcare exchange, implemented by then-Gov. Mitt Romney (R) in 2006, had only 123 enrollees in the first month. Tavenner said she expects slow early enrollment for those seeking insurance by Jan. 1, followed by an influx of young and healthy consumers who will bombard the exchanges before the March 31 enrollment deadline.