Enrollment Numbers: The Next Exciting Source of Obamacare Scandal

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Oct. 30 2013 6:25 PM

Enrollment Numbers: The Next Exciting Source of Obamacare Scandal

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Marilyn Tavenner really, really wants you to wait till mid-November.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Mid-November. Mark that date, or that time of the month—use a highlighter and scrawl it over the middle of the calendar, I guess. That's when the administration is supposed to have official numbers on who's enrolled in health care exchanges. We learned this on Tuesday, when poor Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, was grilled by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp on who'd enrolled.

Camp: You have no numbers on who’s enrolled? So you have no idea?
Tavenner: We will have those numbers available by mid-November.
Camp: So no one is forwarding even weekly updates?
Tavenner: We will get those numbers in mid-November.
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Kathleen Sebelius had a far better dodge today. "I don’t want to turn over any data this is not confirmed and reliable," she said. Easy! Wait until November.

Or wait until the president's speech in Boston, which took place shortly after Sebelius wrapped up. "More people are successfully buying these new plans online than they were a couple of weeks ago," said the president. Pretty quickly, that inspired a sharp statement from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

Today, President Obama said that enrollment in ObamaCare is greater this week than it was two weeks ago. Clearly the President has access to enrollment data that his administration continues to hide. President Obama should be honest with the American people and release the enrollment data he based his remarks on. 

Of course there's some public reporting from states with separate exchanges about how many people have been signing up. I've asked about this, to be sure, while remaining impressed at how many aspects of this law can be scandalized.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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