The federal government happily announced in September that ObamaCare enrollments were above 7 million, meaning that a projection issued by the Congressional Budget Office last year had been met. Look now, however, and the figure is back below 7 million, reports Bloomberg. Why? To get to the higher figure, the administration quietly changed the way it counted enrollments—instead of just those with medical coverage, it added in people with dental coverage. Previously, health care officials had reported the numbers separately, and the additional 380,000 dental subscribers put the total above the CBO's threshold. When Republican fact-checkers noticed the change, the department of Health and Human Services backtracked and reverted to the lower number.
“The mistake we made is unacceptable,” HHS chief Sylvia Mathews Burwell tweeted today. “I will be communicating that clearly throughout the department.” The higher number "partly obscured" the fact that the number of people with just medical coverage had dropped by about 1 million, writes Alex Wayne at Bloomberg. "It seems ... that the administration changed the way it talks about enrollment numbers in order to partially mask how steep the decline actually was," adds Philip Bump at the Washington Post. The Bloomberg story quotes a prominent pro-ObamaCare blogger who is "appalled" by the switcheroo and puzzled by the strategy—the original numbers weren't that far off, and this does nothing but give ObamaCare critics ammo. As one former CBO director puts it, "It's a little weird."