Vice President Joe Biden acknowledged that the Obama administration may fall short of its original unofficial target of signing up seven million people to the new health care law by the end of March. But the Vice President said that signing up five to six million would be a good start.
"Initially we talked about by the end of this period having seven million people lined up. We may not get to seven, we may get to five or six, and that's a hell of a start," Biden said Wednesday in Minneapolis.
Biden made his comments at an unannounced stop at a coffee shop, where he visited with a group of women who had signed up for health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. Biden was in Minnesota to headline a fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee.
Open enrollment to sign up for health insurance through the federal and state exchanges set up by the new law ends on March 31. After that deadline, people without insurance face federal tax penalties.
Numerous technical problems plagued key components of the federal exchange's initial rollout, as well as some of the state exchanges. The botched start-up fueled Republican attacks on Obamacare, which was passed by Congress in 2010, when Democrats controlled both chambers.
The government reported earlier this month that 1.1 million people signed up for health insurance through the exchanges in January, bringing to nearly 3.3 million the number of people who've signed up since the exchanges opened for business at the beginning of October.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office projected that six million people would enroll in the exchanges for coverage in 2014.