Sebelius touts Obamacare as ‘new day’

Says 2 million signed up, but figure has few key specifics

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HHS officials said call center personnel will be on-hand to assist people who tried to enroll in coverage in time for Jan. 1, and reminded consumers to check with their insurer to figure out when their first premiums are due and to make sure they are covered.

Consumers might be able to get proof of insurance before they obtain their physical insurance card, they noted.
Despite the administration’s rosy outlook, the latest enrollment numbers lag behind the pace needed to achieve an oft-stated target of 7 million enrollees by the end of March.

On Tuesday, the administration downplayed that goal.

“That was never our target number,” White House health care adviser Phil Schiliro told MSNBC.

However, in June, Mrs. Sebelius said the administration was “hopeful that seven million is a realistic target.” In an interview with NBC News a day before HealthCare.gov launched Oct. 1, Mrs. Sebelius said that “I think success looks like at least seven million people having signed up by the end of March 2014.”

Mr. Schiliro, a former Obama aide who returned to the White House this month to help with health care strategy, said Mrs. Sebelius cited the figure because it had come from the CBO — Congress’s non-partisan budget scorekeeper — “and it had become an accepted number.”

“There’s no magic to the 7 million,” he said.

David Sherfinksi contributed to this report.

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