WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid admitted during a press conference Wednesday that he doesn’t know how many Americans will sign up for Obamacare after the White House granted an open enrollment extension.
“I don’t know how many are going to sign up for Obamacare, but we think it’s going to be a high number,” Reid said. “I don’t know how high it will be, but it will be high.”
The Obama administration announced Tuesday that people will get extra time if they have applied for health insurance through exchanges but can’t finish the process before the March 31 open enrollment deadline.
Reid stated that Obamacare is not very popular among Americans right now.
“Obamacare, if you do a poll of anyone, that’s dropped way down in significance,” Reid said, adding that the health care exchange rollout was “really bad.”
The White House is scrambling to meet a goal of 6 million signed up through new online markets that offer subsidized private health insurance to people without access to coverage on the job. The HealthCare.gov website got more than 1 million visitors Monday, and the administration also wants to prevent a repeat of website problems that soured consumers last fall.
“We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment, either online or over the phone,” Health and Human Services spokesman Aaron Albright said.
Reid said the latest extension was not a hiccup or a delay.
Officials said the grace period will be available to people on the honor system, meaning applicants will have to attest that special circumstances or complex cases prevented them from finishing by March 31.
It’s unclear how long the extension will last. Some have urged the administration to allow until April 15, the tax filing deadline. People who are due refunds may be willing to put some of that money toward health care premiums.
The Affordable Care Act marked its fourth anniversary this past week.
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