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Health care enrollment falls short of expectations

A report out Tuesday shows that the numbers during the first month of Obamacare sign-ups fell short by thousands of registrants.
Audience members listen during a federal health care law informational town hall meeting with Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., Nov. 1, 2013, in Pottsville, Pa.
Audience members listen during a federal health care law informational town hall meeting with Rep. Matt Cartwright, D-Pa., Nov. 1, 2013, in Pottsville, Pa.

Health care enrollment numbers fell far below the expected outcome during the first month of website sign-ups, according to an initial report released Tuesday by the Wall Street Journal.

About 50,000 people signed up for private coverage or Medicaid since went live on Oct. 1, giving about 45 million uninsured Americans the opportunity to register for insurance plans. But the White House expected at least 500,000 individuals to sign up during the first month.

It is estimated that as few as 40,000 people enrolled in Obamacare during October, according to the report. The administration is looking to boost numbers by including individuals who have selected coverage but have not sent in their first payment.

Not a single person registered in Oregon, one of the states that chose to run its own health care enrollment, the Journal reports.

"It is systemic, so it really goes to the heart of the Democratic party's argument...that government can do good things really well. If we can't get this right, it really undermines that entire argument," Ron Fournier, a reporter for the National Journal, said Tuesday on Morning Joe.

Many users have given the website negative reviews because of widespread glitches and believe President Obama has failed at dealing with the crisis. Additionally, serious security flaws that could lead to identity theft cause for concern.

Some Republicans, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, compared the Affordable Care Act to former President Richard Nixon’s Watergate Scandal.

Obama recently received his lowest approval rating--41%--of his first five terms in office, according to a new poll released by the Pew Research Center.

Joe Scarborough last week said the administration is "digging deeper every day" as the problems persist, which will leave "scar-tissue" for the Democratic party.

“He just didn’t tell Americans the truth for three years,” the Morning Joe host said. “They had to lie to pass Obamacare, and now they’re having to pay for this.”

Some individual states, however, have succeeded at gaining enrollment numbers by setting up their own health care exchanges. For example, there were about 230,000 visits to Connecticut's website, and about 8,000 individuals had enrolled as of last week, Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

When sign ups began during 2007 in Massachusetts, 123 people enrolled during the first month, followed by almost 2,300 in the second month. By the end of the year, 36,000 residents had enrolled.

A new parity rule will expand and protect behavioral health benefits for more than 62 million Americans who either currently have insurance–but no access to mental health coverage–or aren’t enrolled in plans.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius testified multiple times in front of the Senate, defending Obamacare and the ACA.

There is "definitely still time to put this in the rear-view mirror," Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski said Tuesday.

"It's ugly to watch it at this point," she added.

The Obama administration has placed part of the blame on local and state officials who refuse to expand the health care program in their communities. Their noncompliance costs about 5.4 million Americans from gaining access to Medicaid under Obamacare. is more than just a website, though, Fournier said. It is the "front-door" to a potential huge social change.

"If [Americans are] able to go there and make a reasonable choice,"  he said, "this will be a bump in the road and the president will go down in history as somebody who has accomplished something big. If it doesn't work and if they keep deceiving us about it, he's going to go down in history as something other than a great president."

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