The White House said Thursday that 6 million people have signed up for private health insurance plans through the federal and state marketplaces, hitting the administration’s lowered goal, which was originally 7 million. Officials did not say how many people had paid a premium.
On a call in conjunction with the announcement, President Barack Obama, who is on an official trip in Italy, spoke to 2,000 grassroots volunteers, navigators and in-person assistors assembled by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The president thanked the group for all their work to date and discussed the importance of building on this progress during the last four days of open enrollment, according to the White House.
Obama asked the navigators and volunteers to redouble their efforts and “leave no stone unturned in trying to bring affordable health coverage to as many Americans as possible by the March 31 deadline.” Agents and brokers, however, were not listed in the readout of attendees on the call.
Several brokers reacted initially to the call with frustration. “I've spent the last two days locked out of Healthcare.gov, and the 800 number hung up on me a few minutes ago as I try to 'redouble my efforts' to get as many Americans enrolled as possible,” says Joe Childers, a broker at Watershed Benefits in Little Rock, Ark., who called the president’s comments “ironic.”
“Given the fact that agents and brokers have done the heavy lifting on enrollment, he's thanking the wrong group for making the marketplaces actually work,” says David C. Smith of Ebenconcepts in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C. area. “Guess our invitation is in the mail.”
According to another account of the call, Marlon Marshall, deputy director in the White House Office of Public Engagement also thanked the volunteers, navigators and assisters for their help.
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