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Obamacare’s First Day Was Worse Than Anyone Thought

The Obama administration has tossed out a bevy of statistics to try to paint HealthCare.gov's launch in the most positive light: 4.7 million visits on day 1, 5oo,ooo applications two-and-a-half weeks in, billions saved in premiums. But the documents it released on Thursday include some key figures that undercut all of that in a big way. On its first day in operation, just six people managed to buy insurance from Healthcare.gov. Six. That information comes from notes taken in twice-daily "war room" meetings at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, CBS reports. HealthCare.gov launched on Tuesday, Oct. 1. At the Wednesday morning meeting, the notes say "six enrollments have occurred so far." By Wednesday afternoon it was up to 100, and by the end of the day there were 248 enrollments.

The notes came from the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by anti-Obamacare Republican Darrell Issa, Reuters points out. The committee has been asking for them since the website's launch. Their release is especially awkward for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who just told lawmakers on Wednesday, "we do not have any reliable data around enrollment, which is why we haven't given it to date."

HHS Spokeswoman Joanne Peters told Reuters, "these appear to be notes, they do not include official enrollment statistics." She said the department would start releasing enrollment statistics on a monthly basis, likely starting mid-November, once it could collect information from sources such as call centers, insurers' data, and so on. CBS has made the notes available as a PDF.

Even if they're not the official tally, the first days' figures are a hell of a lot lower than the average 39,000 who must enroll daily in order to meet the goal of seven million by March 1.

At the time of the site's launch, you may recall, most of us were too focused on the fact that the government had just shut down to notice just how cruddy the new healthcare site was, though we knew something was very not right. But you can bet you're going to hear these new figures tossed about now, over and over again.

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