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By CNN Chief Washington Correspondent Jake Tapper
Trying to get concrete Obamacare enrollment numbers from the White House has been impossible.
Officials have rejected any suggestion that enrollment is lower than they’d like and that’s why they’re clamming up. They’ve simply said they don’t have any figures.
But President Barack Obama apparently does and offered a glimpse on Thursday. He said 11,000 people have signed up for coverage in Kentucky since the Affordable Care Act exchanges went live in the states on Tuesday.
The updated number is actually higher and the president’s decision to highlight the state is not likely random.
There’s a reason he cited Kentucky and not, say, Louisiana, which the Times-Picayune reported on Thursday only had 12 enrollees. So many states have had trouble with the Healthcare.gov website.
Kentucky seems anecdotally to be one of the more successful exchanges, despite some early glitches.
The Wall Street Journal looked at this and concluded: “State officials and outside experts attribute the smoother rollout to a variety of factors, including intensive testing of the system, a less-flashy but more-efficient website and strong coordination among state agencies involved in the effort.”
Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services spokeswoman Jill Midkiff told CNN that as of 7 a.m. ET Thursday, 12,779 applications for health coverage were started and 8,309 were completed. She said 3,505 Kentucky individuals and/or families were enrolled in new health insurance coverage.
The website for the state has had 117,954 unique visitors viewing 1,825,779 web pages. Some 108,994 people conducted pre-screenings to determine qualifications for subsidies, discounts, or programs like Medicaid.
Relying on information from the Advisory Board Company, Dan Diamond of Forbes reported that as of Wednesday afternoon, “only seven state-based exchanges seemed to be fully functional, while D.C.’s exchange, seven other state exchanges, and all 36 exchanges that relied on the federal government’s system weren’t working.”
Democrats said glitches stemmed from an avalanche of interest. An Obama administration spokesman said in a statement that “overwhelming interest is continuing to cause wait times” but added “there will be continuing improvements in the coming hours and days.”
Republicans have seized on the widespread tech issues as further evidence that Obamacare isn’t fully ready – Obama notably delayed the employer mandate for that reason – and won’t be competently administered.