WASHINGTON – Just six people managed enroll in new health plans on day one of the website’s troubled rollout, documents released by Republican lawmakers showed, in a new embarrassment for the White House.
House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa released a document from a meeting on Oct. 2, the day after HealthCare.gov went online, recording the paltry figure.
By the end of that day, two full days into the sign-up process, “there were 248 enrollments” nationwide, according to the notes from the Department of Health and Social Security.
Both documents were posted Thursday on the website run by Issa’s House oversight committee.
President Barack Obama is counting on millions signing up for health care through online exchanges, part of a plan he pushed through in 2010 to help uninsured Americans get coverage.
Republican lawmakers are uniformly opposed to the law, which they have nicknamed “Obamacare,” and seized on the poor enrollment figures as sign of a colossal failure of the website, in particular.
But Obama spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the focus on the six enrollees as a “dog-bites-man story.”
“We knew it was going to be a slow build,” Carney told reporters.
“It’s no question that it’s been made more challenging by the poorly functioning website, and that’s on us and that’s why we’re dedicating the resources and the brainpower to get it fixed.”
Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who testified before a House panel Wednesday, would not provide the number of enrollees to date, saying that figure would be released mid-November.
Issa announced he subpoenaed Sebelius to provide additional documents about the website, saying the fixes to date have been “completely unacceptable.”