The White House on Thursday sidestepped questions about whether the administration would hit its target of 7 million Obamacare enrollees, after Vice President Joe Biden suggested they would fall short.
Deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said the administration expected a bump in enrollments of young, healthy consumers as they neared the March 31 deadline, citing a similar surge when Massachusetts rollout out its own health insurance exchanges.
“What they found was that the preponderance of young adults signed up at near the end of the window,” said Earnest. “And we do have a similar expectation that the rate of young adults who sign up will increase as we reach the — as we get closer to the deadline.”
Biden on Wednesday, while meeting with people who had benefitted from the health care law or helped sign up consumers, admitted that the administration faced a challenge hitting their goal.
"We may not get to seven million, we may get to five or six, but that's a hell of a start," Biden said.
Earnest on Thursday highlighted California, where enrollment in the state’s exchanges has passed expectations.
“There are some states, some local exchanges, that are ahead of the curve when it comes to signing people up and exceeding their projections,” he said.
“Ultimately, what our goal is, particularly the goal that we're focused on over the course of the next six weeks, is to sign up as many people as possible, to educate people about the options that are available to them and let them know that there is an opportunity for them to sign up,” said Earnest.
The administration said that 3.3 million had signed up for Obamacare as of Feb. 1, but has failed to share information on how many have actually paid their first month’s premium. The exchanges are also behind their targets on signing up young and health consumers needed to offset older, sicker patients.
“The fundamentals actually are determined by the kind of mix of the population that's incorporated into the exchange,” Earnest acknowledged.
“But again, we're not really focused on the optics,” he added. “What we're focused on is making sure that every single American can enjoy the benefits of this important law.”