Considering the years-long battle to pass the Affordable Care Act and the lengths to which Democrats went to protect it, the launch of President Obama’s healthcare law was something of a disaster, marred mostly by the program’s broken website. But now we know just how awful the enrollment numbers were from those first few days.
According to documents obtained by CBS News from the House Oversight Committee, just sixpeople enrolled in the program using its website during the first 24 hours, despite the Obama administration’s claims of 4.7 million unique visitors to the site over the same time period. And the second day wasn’t much better: just 248 people were able to enroll nationwide.
As CBS News notes, the healthcare program needs an average of 39,000 enrollees per day to meet its goal of 7 million users by March 1.
The documents, consisting of notes from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the arm of the Health and Human Services Department that has been overseeing the website, were released one day after Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the House committee, and seem to contradict part of her testimony. “We do not have any reliable data around enrollment, which is why we haven’t given it to date,”she said during the committee, though one of the notes from the document reads, “Statistics coming in…QSSI has a daily dashboard created every night.”
A Health and Human Services spokesman suggested to CBS News that the numbers weren’t released because the might not include the different ways to enroll, and also noted that enrollment in a similar plan in Massachusetts started off slowly and then increased as the deadline neared.
“These appear to be notes, they do not include official enrollment statistics,” spokeswoman Joanne Peters said in a statement. “We will release enrollment statistics on a monthly basis after coordinating information from different sources such as paper, on-line, and call centers, verifying with insurers, and collecting data from states.”
In part because of Healthcare.gov’s problems, President Obama’s polling numbers are at an all-time low, with just 42 percent approving of his job performance while 51 percent disapprove. (Though, if it makes you feel any better, the GOP is also polling at a record low, with a 53 percent negativity rating and just a 22 percent approval rating).
Perhaps because of those numbers, Democrats, especially those up for reelection in 2014, have begun to speak out about the program. “People are anxious,” Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois told the New York Times. “It’s not working well,” Sen. Benjamin Cardin of Maryland added.
“I don’t think there’s confidence by anyone in the room,” said Senator Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat up for re-election next year, told the Times. “This is more a show-me moment. We were all confident that the system was going to be up and operating on Oct 1. And now we’re not confident until it’s real.”