Obamacare Enrollment Surpasses 7 Million, Reaching Target Set By President

 @TreyeGreen t.green@ibtimes.com
on April 01 2014 9:01 PM
Obama, Biden, Obamacare
U.S. President Barack Obama, with Vice President Joseph Biden behind him, talking about the enrollment numbers of the Affordable Care Act outside the White House, April 1, 2014. Reuters

President Barack Obama triumphantly announced Tuesday that his national health care program enrolled more than 7 million Americans by the end of March.
 

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, the president said a total of 7.1 million people signed up for coverage under the bitterly contested law before midnight Monday, reports Reuters. He also called for Republicans to end their efforts to repeal the law.

"This law is doing what it's supposed to do. It's working. It's helping people from coast to coast," Obama said. "The debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay."

The program was plagued with several setbacks during its launch, including severe technical glitches that kept many from enrolling on the main website for the program, HealthCare.gov. But toward the end of the enrollment period, as experts predicted, signups increased dramatically. The strong numbers are considered a victory for Democrats, who faced great criticism for the health care law.

Monday was the deadline for enrollments, but it was announced on Tuesday that people who encountered technical issues in the last days of signups would be allowed to finish their applications. On Tuesday, the site officially announced open enrollment had closed.

Many analysts continue to raise questions about the breakdown of Americans who enrolled in the program.

"We still have a lot to learn about what underlies those numbers in terms of who signed up and how many were newly insured people versus switching from other coverage," said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., also released a statement on the Obamacare numbers.  

“We don’t know of course, exactly what they have signed up for, we don’t know how many have paid. What we do know is that all across the country our constituents are having an unpleasant interaction with Obamacare,” McConnell said in a statement. “Whether they can sign up for a policy or not, they are discovering, of course, higher premiums, a higher deductible. Many of them are losing their jobs and so it is really a catastrophe for the country both for the health care providers and the consumers.”

But White House officials continue to praise the program despite criticism from Republicans.

"What we do know is that all across the country our constituents are having an unpleasant interaction with Obamacare. Whether they can sign up for a policy or not, they are discovering, of course, higher premiums, a higher deductible," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., told reporters after a meeting with the president.

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