Obamacare enrollment on target to hit 7 million mark

WASHINGTON, April 1 Tue Apr 1, 2014 9:55am EDT

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WASHINGTON, April 1 (Reuters) - The initial enrollment period for President Barack Obama's healthcare plan ended with the program on track to achieve its original goal to provide coverage to 7 million Americans, administration officials said on Tuesday.

Monday's deadline came after a surge in registration despite a return of technical problems, including a longer-than-expected maintenance session, although nothing as serious as the problems that beset the launch of the HealthCare.gov website in October.

The site on Tuesday announced that open enrollment for Obamacare had closed but people whose applications were thwarted by technical problems would be given a chance to finish their registration.

By last week more than 6 million people had signed up for private health coverage through the new Obamacare insurance markets, surpassing a target set after a disastrous October rollout called the enrollment process into question.

Obama administration officials said Tuesday the late surge in enrollment had the program "on track" to reach 7 million registrants, which was its original goal.

"We admittedly had just a terrible start because the website wasn't working, and despite losing effectively two months, we are going to be reasonably close to that original projection," Obama said in an interview aired Monday on "The CBS Evening News."

Joanne Peters, spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said that in addition to record traffic on the website, The Medicare & Medicaid phone center handled a record number of calls.

A successful enrollment would give an important political boost to the administration and its Democratic allies, who are locked in an election year battle with Republicans over the future of Obamacare. (Reporting by David Morgan; Writing by Bill Trott; Editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)

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