In Wake of 5 Million Cancellations and Dismal Obamacare Numbers, Administration Abandons Enrollment Tally as Barometer for Success

December 11, 2013

UPTON: “If successfully and completely enrolling Americans in health care is not how the White House would define ‘success,’ then we are witnessing an administration unraveling at the seams.”

On day 72 of the health law’s enrollment period, just hours after HHS unveiled the latest numbers, the White House today made a startling announcement. White House spokesman Josh Earnest offered a new definition of “success” for the administration, saying that the number of people who enroll in health care plans “will not determine the success or failure of the Affordable Care Act or the marketplaces.” But on September 30, Secretary Sebelius told NBC News, “Success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March, 2014.”

While the latest administration report boasts 364,682 people having “selected” a plan since October 1, the numbers are beyond worst case scenario as more than 5 million people have already lost coverage because of this law. During her testimony today, Secretary Sebelius was not able to confirm for the committee how many of those individuals have successfully and completely enrolled in plans. Health Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) today asked Secretary Sebelius, “Based on HHS’s release this morning, your department is more than 3 million off their target. Isn’t that correct?” Secretary Sebelius responded, “Through the end of November, that is correct, sir.”

This is not the first time the administration has taken its red pen to its previous declarations. In the days leading up to the October 1 start of open enrollment, The Washington Post reported, “Joel Ario, who previously oversaw health exchanges at HHS [said], ‘but in some situations, you may see a redefinition of what ‘start’ means.’” We have since seen that “start” meant launching a website that has not been tested from end to end and a marketplace that was 30 to 40 percent incomplete.

“There is no escaping the fact that millions of Americans are now without health care coverage because of this law,” commented Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI). “It is sad that when the going gets tough, this administration ducks responsibility and moves the goal posts. If successfully and completely enrolling Americans in health care is not how the White House would define ‘success,’ then we are witnessing an administration unraveling at the seams. Creative arithmetic does nothing to offer peace of mind to the more than 5 million Americans who have been left to worry about their health plans this holiday season.”  

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