It was New Year’s Eve for the Obama administration Monday night, as White House Chief Technology Officer Todd Park counted down until the midnight Obamacare deadline and celebrated surpassing 7 million enrollments with a champagne toast.
Park rallied employees of QSSI, the Columbia, Md.-based software company tasked with rescuing HealthCare.gov after its tumultuous start. April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks’ White House reporter, posted audio on her Web site of Park’s locker room-style speech to the tech team.
When hitting 7 million enrollments seemed far out of reach, White House officials denied that the number was ever an actual benchmark, but simply a number floated by the Congressional Budget Office. With enrollments at a crawl when the marketplaces first opened, the Obama administration tripped over itself to temper expectations. (Our resident fact checker Glenn Kessler gave the White House “two Pinocchios” in January for minimizing the 7 million target.)
But surpassing that magic number sure was cause for celebration for Park and the IT team.
“There was a number actually set out by the Congressional Budget Office … and everyone thought that was impossible, especially after we had the rocky start,” Park says on the recording. “And actually I’m proud to tell you y’all, and you’re the first to know, that y’all with this day alone … have carried the ball over the impossible line. We actually exceeded the 7 million enrollments.”
And the crowd went wild. So, as is no surprise to anyone, 7 million always was the goal.