- The Washington Times - Friday, November 1, 2013

The House’s top investigator released Obamacare meeting notes late Thursday that suggest only six people were able to enroll in coverage through a federal web portal on its launch date, Oct. 1.

That number climbed to 248 enrollments after the second day, the documents say.

Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican and chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform,  is attempting to shed light on one of the biggest mysteries of the online markets’ debut this month — how many people have enrolled in coverage.

Despite repeated request from lawmakers and reporters, the Obama administration has said it will not have reliable data on enrollments until sometime this month.

The markets, known as exchanges, are run by individual states or by the federal government through HealthCare.gov, which channels requests from the 36 states that declined to set up their own exchanges.

The federal website has been plagued by problems that inhibit actual enrollment — picking a plan and paying for it — even as the Obama administration says at least 700,000 people have applied for coverage.

Mr. Issa obtained the meeting notes from the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight’s “War Room” meetings on the first couple days of implementation through a request for documents from 11 of the top contractors involved in implementing HealthCare.gov.

On the morning of Oct. 2, the meeting notes said: “6 enrollments have occurred so far with 5 different issuers.”

Meeting notes from later in the day say the number climbed to 100, and then reached 248 by the Oct. 3 morning meeting.

The numbers appear to reflect those who’ve gotten through the federal website.

State-run exchanges have reported mixed success, with Democratic lawmakers citing enrollment in states such as California and Kentucky as proof the law can work.

The Department of Health and Human Services has said it will release official data when it is able.

“These appear to be notes, they do not include official enrollment statistics,” HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said of Mr. Issa’s figures. “We will release enrollment statistics on a monthly basis after coordinating information from different sources such as paper, on-line, and call centers, verifying with insurers, and collecting data from states.

“As [HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius] said before Congress, we are focused on providing reliable and accurate information and we do not have that at this time due to the issues with 834 forms,” she added, referring to glitches with technical reports that are sent to insurers with details about each enrollee. “We have always anticipated that the pace of enrollment will increase throughout the enrollment period.”

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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