Calif. beats ObamaCare sign-up goal weeks early

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California announced Wednesday that it has beat its 2014 ObamaCare enrollment goals with roughly five weeks left before the first sign-up period closes.

Covered California, the state's health insurance marketplace, registered 728,410 people before the end of January and about 100,000 more in the first two weeks of February, officials said.

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Another 877,000 patients were determined eligible for Medicaid in the state, which opted to expand the low-income health insurance program under the Affordable Care Act, the announcement continued.

"These enrollment numbers mean that with six weeks to go, California has already exceeded its projected base enrollment for the 2014 open-enrollment period," said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee in a statement.

"While this is a strong showing, our goal is not pinned to meeting projections, but to making sure every Californian gets covered," he added. 

State officials previously said they hoped to enroll between 487,000 and 696,000 subsidy-eligible patients by April 1. Covered California said Wednesday that 626,210 had signed up between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31.

California's exchange has been the most successful in the country since its launch last fall. Eighty percent of enrollees have paid their first premium, and about one quarter are 34 years old or younger, the system reported this week.

Wednesday's news drew swift praise from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

"Congrats CoveredCA for exceeding 2014 enrollment goals and making sure Californians get covered," Pelosi tweeted. "Once again, California leads the way!"

Nationwide, about 3.3 million people signed up for private plans under the healthcare law before Feb. 1, federal health officials said last week.

The Obama administration once hoped to enroll 7 million by the end of March, but the Congressional Budget Office lowered its projection to 6 million because of the problems that initially plagued HealthCare.gov.

January marked the first month that sign-ups beat an administration forecast.