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Hatch slams Obamacare's low enrollment in D.C.

Published November 9, 2013 5:06 pm

Health care • Utah senator suggests problems were similar across the nation.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Washington • The Obama administration is just days away from saying how many people signed up for health insurance through its glitch-ridden online portal.

But Sen. Orrin Hatch provided a preview Friday of what could be a very low number.

Five.

That's the number of people, he says, who by the end of October were able to enroll through the online exchange in Washington, D.C.

"With numbers like these, it's no wonder the Obama administration hasn't wanted to release how many people have signed up for Obamacare," Hatch, R-Utah, said in a statement.

An aggressive opponent of the health law, Hatch announced the number along with Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, after they received responses from the four insurance companies participating in D.C.'s online exchange.

The D.C. exchange has experienced technological problems similar to the federal healthcare.gov, which serves 36 states. In particular, the D.C. site has had problems identifying who should get a federal subsidy and who is eligible for Medicaid. Most members of Congress and their employees will get health insurance through this exchange starting next week.

Utah is among 36 states that decided not to run their own insurance marketplace, which offers health coverage for the uninsured and people not insured through work or through a government program.

The White House now hopes to have healthcare.gov fully operational by the end of November. Its original goal was to have roughly 800,000 people enrolled by then.

Earlier this week, Hatch asked Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius how many people have signed up through exchanges operated by the states and the federal government.

She declined to give a figure at the Senate hearing, noting the administration will release that figure next week because "we want to make sure we give you valid, accurate numbers."

mcanham@sltrib.com