By Jonathan Easley - 04/01/14 05:59 PM EDT
Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius thanked her staff Tuesday for all their work in helping the administration reach its ObamaCare enrollment goal.
Sebelius also acknowledged the intense focus that fell on her agency during the rocky rollout of the law.
“I know that this law has been at the center of much debate and discourse in Washington, but what this enrollment demonstrates is that the Affordable Care Act is working and much needed,” she said.
“Our work is far from over,” she continued. “But I hope you will take a moment to pause and celebrate — be proud of the difference you are making in the lives of your fellow Americans. Very few people get to do work that matters this much. I am extremely honored to work with such a devoted and talented group of individuals and to share this special day with all of you.”
More than 7 million people enrolled in ObamaCare during the first open enrollment period, President Obama announced Tuesday in a celebratory speech at the Rose Garden.
Less than a month ago, hitting that initial Congressional Budget Office-estimated figure seemed unlikely, as the administration struggled to play catch-up after early website problems essentially shaved two months off of open enrollment.
Sebelius became the central political figure in the website collapse, with many lawmakers calling for her to be fired. But on Tuesday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said President Obama still has faith in the secretary.
Carney said the president “has had and has confidence in his secretary of Health and Human Services,” and that she was “at the front of the line, getting to work” fixing the ObamaCare website.