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Health chief pushes ObamaCare sign-ups ahead of deadline

Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell pushed a friendly audience of healthcare advocates to encourage ObamaCare sign-ups before the Feb. 15 enrollment deadline in a speech Thursday in Washington. 

The administration's push for sign-ups has a lower profile than it did last year. Then, in the first major test for the law's healthcare exchanges, President Obama threw himself into the effort, even making a controversial appearance on the comedy show "Between Two Ferns" to promote the law.

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Obama did not mention deadline in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, leaving the enrollment push to Burwell, who mentioned the Feb. 15 deadline multiple times in a public appearance Thursday.

"I’m sure I do not need to remind anyone in this room that that deadline is Feb. 15," she told the crowd of advocates at a conference of the pro-ObamaCare consumer group Families USA. 

She said that she was up early giving satellite interviews about the deadline. 

"It’s something I say early and often, including this morning at 7:55 on satellites to Indiana and Ohio," she said. 

HHS announced on Wednesday that sign-ups had passed 7 million people, which was an important milestone last year, on the way to a target of around 9 million enrollments this year. 

Burwell took the opportunity to tout the achievements of the law so far to the crowd. 

"We’ve achieved a historic reduction in the uninsured," she said. "Middle-class families have more security, and many of those who already had insurance had better coverage.  At the same time, we’re spending our health care dollars more wisely and we’re starting to receive higher quality care."

HHS has worked to make the enrollment process easier, she said, reducing the number of screens people need to go through to enroll online from 76 to 16. 

"Remember that date?" she said as she wrapped up the speech, as the crowd called out "Feb. 15."

"The most important person we get covered is the next person we get covered," she said.