WH Point-Man on Obamacare: 'This Is a Very Popular Thing'

Susan Jones | March 28, 2014 | 6:16am EDT
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'Don't Delay' message posted on HHS Website

(CNSNews.com) - Phil Schiliro, the White House adviser for health policy, says there's a surge of demand for Obamacare in the waning days of open enrollment, and that's why the Obama administration will let people complete their applications after the March 31 deadline.

"I'll give you one example," Schiliro told NBC's Andrea Mitchell on Thursday. "Just this week, the first three days of this week, more than a million people have called the call center. Yesterday (Wednesday), 1.5 million -- more than 1.5 million -- came to the website."

"There's tremendous demand. This is a very popular thing for people. We want to make sure everyone who's trying to get insurance has the opportunity to complete the process."

Asked how many people have signed up, Schiliro said he didn't want to give numbers: "But let me just say, we're doing very, very good. The demand -- the number of people signing up, I think we're going to be over 6 million. I think we'll be well over 6 million."

On Thursday, HHS announced that "more than 6 million Americans have signed up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces since October 1." The announcement said HHS is "working hard to ensure that our systems can handle the unprecedented demand as people enroll before the March 31 deadline." (Or after the deadline, as the case may be!)

Schiliro on Thursay defended the administration's decision to give people extra time to complete their applications if they've already begun subscribing to Obamacare by March 31:

"I want to make clear to folks: this is not an extension," he said. "This is aimed at people who are in the system, trying to complete their process but for whatever reason may not do it. So we're giving people a couple of extra days if they haven't completed the application, if they're having problems getting with healthcare.gov just to finish the process.

"If we had people who, at midnight on Monday, had finished three quarters of their application or were having trouble getting back into the call system because of volume, we'd be criticized that we've cut off those people from getting insurance. We're letting people complete the process. That's common sense. So we would do it at any other situation. It makes sense to do it here."

Schiliro said he doubts people are purposely waiting until the deadline has passed to enroll in Obamacare, just so they can "scam the system."

"Nobody's doing that," he said.

In response to a question, Schiliro said he sees no indication that the White House will relax the contraception mandate, an issue that is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

"I think we'll talk with the president when he gets back. I can't pre-judge that. But I don't have any indication we would revisit it," he said.

The business and economic reporting of CNSNews.com is funded in part with a gift made in memory of Dr. Keith C. Wold.


Also See:
Poll: Only 26% of Americans Support Democrats' Health Insurance Law

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