By Jonathan Easley - 02/25/14 01:52 PM EST
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declined on three consecutive occasions Tuesday to say the Obama administration would meet the original goal of having 7 million people signed up for ObamaCare by March 31.
After dodging the first two times, Sebelius sought to diminish the importance of the figure.
“First of all, 7 million was not the administration,” Sebelius said. “That was a CBO, Congressional Budget Office, prediction when the bill was first signed. I’m not quite sure where they even got their number. Their number’s all over the board, and you know, the vice president has looked and said it may be closer to five to six. I’m more interested in what we are doing today: getting the word out to target populations.”
HHS has said 3.3 million people selected a healthcare plan under ObamaCare through January, and enrollment has been on the upswing since HealthCare.gov began working properly in December.
Still, the administration initially embraced the CBO’s estimate, which appear increasingly unlikely in the aftermath of the botched website launch.
Last week, Vice President Biden said 5 million or 6 million would be “a hell of a start.”
The healthcare law is not solely dependent on the number of users who sign up, but rather the mix of healthy and unhealthy participants. However, amid a dearth of information about the law, enrollment figures have become one of the primary gauges as to how the rollout is going.