Despite some others expectations and hopes of high enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, during a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, that she expects low enrollment in the ACA’s infancy.
Her expectations are mainly because of the ACA website’s shaky rollout, as the site still needs “a couple hundred fixes” even after going up about six weeks ago. And even after this amount of time, the task of fixing the issues still seems to be lagging. “We’re not there yet,” Sebelius said.
“We are not where we need to be,” said Sebelius to the Senate Finance Committee. “It is a pretty aggressive schedule to get to the end of the punch list by the end of November.”
The self-imposed deadline has placed a great deal of pressure upon backers of the site and the administration to quickly amend the site’s problems. And time is essential as many have already turned away from signing up because of frustrations caused by the site’s splotchy interface. Therefore, not only must the site be fixed, but administrators must also develop a new focal point in its marketing, recapturing those lost signups.
The botched rollout of the site has become fodder for Republicans who endlessly want to dismantle and discredit the ACA in any way possible. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) went on a heavy offensive against Sebelius during her testimony to the Senate Finance Committee. “While I am glad that you are accepting responsibility for this disastrous rollout, I would have preferred that you and the rest of the administration were honest with us to begin with,” said Hatch, who referred to the rollout as an “absolute debacle.”
Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) called for Sebelius’ resignation saying to her “You have said the American people should hold you accountable, which is why today I repeat my request for you to resign.”
As far as actual numbers go, the enrollment was way below what was initially expected. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services administrator Marilyn Tavenner had expectations of about 800,000 enrollments by the end of this month. In the first three days of the website’s hard launch, only 248 people enrolled for Obamacare.
Despite demand, the administration has refused to release any enrollment figures so far. But the administration said that the beginning stages of enrollment make compiling concrete data a difficult task.
However, Tavenner said that the current fixes have enabled the website the capacity to process 17,000 daily enrollments.
Josh is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @dnJdeli.