A total of 7.3 million people were paid enrollees in ObamaCare by the end of the summer, the head of the federal healthcare program said Thursday.
Marilyn Tavenner, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), provided the latest enrollment figures during a hearing of the House Oversight Committee. The figure represents a drop-off of about 700,000 people from the Obama administration’s initial enrollment estimate this spring.
“I think 7.3 million is a strong number,” Tavenner said, adding that the numbers reflect those who had paid their premiums through Aug. 15.
The White House had previously reported that 8 million people had signed up through the exchange. But CMS spokesman Aaron Albright cautioned against comparing that figure with the one released Thursday.
He said the 8 million sign-ups reported this spring were aggregate, and may have represented multiple sign-ups. For example, he said people might have enrolled more than once if they had changed jobs during the enrollment period.
The enrollment dip came under fire from Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
Issa asked Tavenner how hundreds of thousands of people were technically enrolled in the insurance program for 90 days, though they did not complete their signups.
“They basically got a free ride. 700,000 people got a free ride,” Issa said.
Albright maintained that customers are not truly enrolled — and do not receive benefits — until they have paid their first month.
Lawmakers asked CMS for the number of people who had signed up for ObamaCare with federal subsidies. The Congressional Budget Office had predicted that about 80 percent of people who enroll would use subsidies to buy plans.
“As soon as we have it, we will release it,” Tavenner said.
Tavenner, and other federal officials, have repeatedly declined to say how many people signed up for insurance in the first year. The second year of ObamaCare enrollment is about two months away.
— This story was updated at 2:11 and 2:53 p.m.