April 1 - More than 7 million people have signed up for President Obama's national healthcare program despite a shaky start. Rough cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) President Barack Obama's national healthcare program signed up more than 7 million people by the last day of March, the White House said on Tuesday (April 1), notching a rare victory after a months-long, glitch-filled rollout of the law. "Last night, the first open enrollment period under this law came to an end, and despite several lost weeks out of the gate, because of problems with the website, 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private insurance plans through these marketplaces," Obama said at a news conference. Experts had predicted a last-minute surge. The number represented what the White House has called a comeback story that could boost Democrats in the November congressional elections. Obama's party is seeking to hold on to control of the U.S. Senate and minimize losses in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, but the problems with Obamacare have complicated congressional races and handed Republicans a key talking point for skeptical constituents. Monday's deadline for initial enrollment in the program came after a surge in registrations despite the return of technical problems, including a longer-than-expected maintenance session, although nothing as serious as the issues that beset the website's launch 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 the disastrous rollout called the enrollment process into question.