Carney Dodges On Obamacare Enrollment Numbers

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For the second day in a row White House Press Secretary Jay Carney couldn’t tell reporters how many people have actually enrolled in Obamacare.

Carney told reporters  "we don't have those figures. And like other government programs, you know, we're not going to release them minute-by-minute or day-by-day but, you know, they'll be collected and aggregated and put out in the kind of, you know, time frame that is normal for this kind of program, like Medicare and Medicaid and other."

Below is a transcript of the exchange:

Q: One other quick question. Any enrollment figures you can give us for the health — online health care exchanges? We've gotten a lot in terms of —

MR. CARNEY: I think you've gotten — (inaudible) — numbers about the general interest in the —

Q: Any other numbers, like accounts —

MR. CARNEY: — in the Affordable Care Act site, healthcare.gov, as well as the remarkable interest expressed by callers to the 800 number. What — you know, we're in the stage of — oh, I think we're day three or day four of an 182-day, roughly, process. So I don't have, you know, specific data for you. What I can tell you is it is irrefutable that there is not (sic) great interest.

It is also absolutely the case — and we were saying this, I can point you to the briefings, before we knew that there would be this kind of volume of interest — that it is absolutely a fact, based on experience, that in the early periods of an open enrollment stage of — especially of a new program like this, a lot of this is people comparison shopping, talking to their families, calling people they trust for their opinion, checking what's on offer against offers elsewhere; and that, as we saw in Massachusetts and we saw with other federal government programs, people make those choices after they do a lot of window shopping.

So we are not anticipating that everybody who is going to enroll in a health care plan through the Affordable Care Act through these marketplaces is going to do so in the first week. In fact, it's a six-month enrollment period for a reason.

All we can know now and what we can tell you now is that people are getting through the system, they are enrolling, there are great anecdotes out there of people who have successfully enrolled, and that process will continue. And we continue to address the challenges created by the extraordinary level of interest in health care reform and, you know, the options available to people for the first time.

I had something for you here that I thought was rather remarkable.

Q: No indication of how many people have successfully enrolled, though? (Inaudible) — question.

MR. CARNEY: Again, I don't — we don't have those figures. And like other government programs, you know, we're not going to release them minute-by-minute or day-by-day but, you know, they'll be collected and aggregated and put out in the kind of, you know, time frame that is normal for this kind of program, like Medicare and Medicaid and other

Q: Well, how often is that?

MR. CARNEY: I would check Medicare and Medicaid. I don't have a specific, you know, date for you.

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