Obamacare has done the unthinkable: the goal of seven million sign-ups by the cut-off date has been reached.
President Obama's signature healthcare legislation has been fraught with structural and operational problems since its inception, though a government staffer speaking with the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity has said that the goal number has been achieved. The President will make a speech at 4.15pm today in response to the promising final numbers.
The boost in enrolments is thought to come after concerted efforts by the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services to court people who may have been on the fence or delayed in their intended sign-up. Among them was the 'March Madness' effort, capitalizing on the President's known love of basketball to design a 'bracket' of benefits reaped by those who signed up for health coverage through the Healthcare.gov portal. Another success story came in the form of President Obama's appearance on comedian Zach Galifianakis' faux talk show, Between Two Ferns, hawking the high points of the Affordable Care Act.
Indeed, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the HHS and scapegoat for much of Obamacare's early glitches, noted that enrolments experienced a sharp incline after the President's now-viral interview with Galifianakis, calling it 'the Galifianakis bump.' "The website traffic surged once the 'Between Two Ferns' interview went on," she said. "But more importantly, what we're trying to do is reach people in the language that they most understand. Certainly Zach reaches a certain audience. As a mother of two 30-something sons, I know they're more likely to get their information on 'Funny or Die' than they are on network TV."
However, the administration hasn't revealed how many enrollees actually confirmed their sign-ups by paying the initial monthly premiums. Further, additional time has been granted for people who started the sign-up process but failed to finish it by the cut-off date. It's anticipated that these facts will be revealed in the President's speech this afternoon.
Though Sebelius has been the face of Healthcare.gov, she was gracious in conceding the Between Two Ferns spot to the President."This is his signature policy issue, it's something that he was committed to when he ran for president, he was the first president in the history of the United States to be able to deliver on health reform, so he gets the chair with Zach."