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An estimated 106,185 people signed up for Obamacare through the federal and state-run exchanges during the month of October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Wednesday.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (Getty Images)
The number is well below the White House’s expectations of 500,000 for the first month.
Approximately 26,794 people enrolled in Obamacare through the error-riddled, multimillion-dollar healthcare.gov website. The remainder enrolled through the state-run exchanges.
It's important to note that the White House's figures include people who signed up for a plan and people who have a plan waiting in their online shopping cart, The Washington Post reported.
Sebelius told reporters after the numbers were released that the administration expects the figures to increase "substantially" over the next five months, as happened when Massachusetts implemented the original version of the state exchange program.
Well aware of the dismal federal exchange numbers, the Obama administration spent much of Monday and Tuesday laying the groundwork for the bad news.
“I can guarantee you the number that is released will be lower than we had hoped and anticipated because of the problems with the website, and that is why it is so important to focus our energies on fixing the problems,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday.
Carney said Wednesday he hadn't discussed the numbers yet with President Barack Obama.
“No one will be satisfied with the numbers because they will be below what we sought,” Carney said.
At a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing Wednesday, U.S. lawmakers repeatedly failed to get those responsible for healthcare.gov to give a hard date for when the site will be functioning. As of this writing, it is unclear when the website will be fully operational.
"This report is a symbol of the failure of the president’s health care law. It is a rolling calamity that must be scrapped," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said shortly after the numbers were released.
The new figures have only handed Republicans more ammunition in their longstanding war agains the massive health care law.
“While the Obama White House is sure to blame the poor enrollment numbers on the many unacceptable tech glitches that have frustrated Americans," Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said after the figures were released.
"I maintain that the larger reason ObamaCare has failed is because it was conceived based on a lie that Americans could keep their healthcare plans and has failed to address our number one healthcare problem in America: soaring costs. Reasons one million and one million and one why the federal government should not be running our healthcare," he added.
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