GOP FOIAs Number of Obamacare Enrollees

White House has thus far refused to release enrollment information

October 21, 2013

The National Republican Committee filed a Freedom of Information Act request Monday seeking the number of Americans who have enrolled in health care through the Obamacare website since the program was rolled out on Oct. 1.

The White House has so far refused to release any information on the number of enrollees following the glitch-ridden rollout of the Obamacare website, leading Republican critics to accuse the administration of a cover-up.

Politicians and pundits are also calling for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ resignation in the wake of the botched launch.

"Kathleen Sebelius and the Obama administration spent hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on this website, but Americans trying to use it have gotten little more than error messages and crashing web pages," RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. "It’s important for Americans to see these numbers because they illustrate just how terrible the system is and how poorly designed the law was. The administration isn’t living up to its promises, and they must be held accountable."

Sen. Pat Roberts (R., Ky.) called on Sebelius to resign last week.

"Americans are tired of the Sebelius spin," Roberts said. "They can see Obamacare has failed them. We need a secretary who can admit when enough is enough."

The conservative group Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) also launched a website last week——attacking the administration’s refusal to release information about the number of enrollees.

"Americans already know that they have a hard time putting information into the Obamacare enrollment system," ATR’s Grover Norquist said in a press release.

"Turns out they can’t get any information out of the system either. The system is broken on both ends. Even a company going bankrupt knows how many widgets it sold. Maybe it’s a small amount. But it’s a known number."

President Barack Obama addressed the problems with the health care website in an address Monday. Sebelius is also expected to testify before Congress in the near future.

The White House has said it will release monthly numbers on enrollees beginning in November. For now, the administration is engaged in a massive overhaul of the Obamacare website that may take weeks.

The Department of Health and Human Services released some preliminary numbers over the weekend on its blog. While DHHS acknowledged that the glitches have been "frustrating," it said it has received 500,000 applications and around 19 million unique visits to the website, which "confirms that the American people are looking for quality, affordable health coverage, and want to find it online."

The launch of the Obamacare website was accompanied by widespread technical problems and long wait times for users.

According to the New York Times, White House officials declined to identify the private contractors responsible for the website, saying the information was private.

News reports later revealed the contractor to be a Canadian firm that was awarded a no-bid contract to design the $400 million Obamacare website. Federal officials did not allow testing of the website until a week before its public launch.

Federal officials, contractors, and industry experts knew as early as March that there were significant problems with the project.

"Really it’s telling that they don’t want to give out any numbers," Priebus said. "This is an administration that never misses an opportunity to brag; they’ve previously leaked sensitive national security information to burnish their image. So what are they hiding?"