Nightly News   |  November 13, 2013

Healthcare enrollee numbers fall far short of expectations

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius delivered bad news about the poor healthcare enrollment numbers via phone on Wednesday. Of the 106,000 enrollees, only one quarter enrolled via the federal government’s website. Most signed up via the state-run websites. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> numbers are finally out. they confirm the new health insurance program is in big trouble . just 27,000 people have enrolled on the federal website, health care .gov. just 106,000 have signed up for so-called obama care overall. our chief white house correspondent chuck todd following the story all day is was from there tonight. chuck, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. the numbers tell a grim story, frighteningly low enrollment, barely enough people to fill a football stadium . this isn't just disastrous news for the health care law . it's a political firestorm for the president as even the democrats in congress begin to panic. the news was so bad kathleen sebelius avoided cameras and delivered it over the phone.

>> as of this first period, 106,000 americans have enrolled in qualified health plans through the marketplace.

>> reporter: she avoided admitting that of the 106,000 enrollees, just a quarter enrolled via the federal government 's website -- less than 27,000. most came through the 15 state-run exchanges. in fact, california's exchange alone outperformed the feds signing up nearly 10,000 more folks.

>> nobody is satisfied. nobody who supports implementation of the affordable care act is satisfied with what we have seen out of the website.

>> reporter: sebelius tried to look on the bright side noting nearly a million americans completed applications but are still shopping.

>> even with the issues we have had, the marketplace is working and people are enrolling.

>> reporter: they aren't enrolling fast enough. the administration projected 500,000 people would sign up in october oh. in order for the program to work in its first year the administration needs at least 3 million by march 31 . a tall order but no reason for panic yet says one of the chief architects of the law.

>> we all want to pay attention to the numbers. it's not the first month that matters. it's what happens in march that matters.

>> reporter: before march the administration has to get past november 30 , the new deadline by which the president promised to have the health care .gov website functioning smoothly.

>> i will give it a grade. this was an f.

>> reporter: in a con ten shougs congressional hearing today republicans doubted the deadline would be met.

>> will it work on november 30 , properly, fully?

>> the team set a goal of having health care .gov and the team is working hard to meet the goal.

>> reporter: while the republicans hammered the administration on camera today, the democrats did it behind the scenes , brian. the white house got an earful from panicked house democrats. tomorrow is white house will hear from nervous senate democrats who fear their political power and the law are suddenly on life support .

>> chuck todd from the white house for us tonight. chuck,