White House says Obamacare enrollment a priority

November 10, 2016 2:15 PM EST

White House spokesman Josh Earnest speaks to reporters from the White House in Washington November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque


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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Getting more Americans to enroll for health insurance under President Barack Obama's healthcare law known as Obamacare is a top priority of his administration until President-elect Donald Trump takes office on Jan. 20, the White House said on Thursday.

"We would be focused on ... maximizing the opportunity that currently is available for millions of Americans to go to healthcare.gov during the open enrollment period and sign up for healthcare," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told a news briefing.

Sylvia Burwell, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, tweeted on Thursday that Nov. 9 was HealthCare.gov's best day with 100,000 sign-ups since it began selling the 2017 Obamacare plans on Nov. 1. The government's goal is for more than 13.8 million sign-ups initially.

Trump has said that he plans to repeal Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. Insurers have said that 2017 Obamacare plans will remain in place and that any changes would affect 2018 plans.

Earnest said that people should not worry about what could happen to the healthcare exchanges under the Trump administration.

"These are benefits that are available to them today. We certainly would encourage people to sign up and capitalize on the good opportunity that's there," he said.

Obama met with Trump on Thursday for the first time in a one-on-one, 90-minute meeting in the White House Oval Office. Trump also released a review of his goals to overhaul healthcare on his website, reiterating that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Trump's pledge to repeal Obamacare may not be easy. He does not have the votes in Congress for an outright repeal and will have to cut away at its financing first, health policy experts say.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Caroline Humer in New York; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Jonathan Oatis)



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