(Bloomberg Politics) -- Sylvia Mathews Burwell, secretary for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said Sunday that at least 100,000 people had submitted applications for healthinsurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act since the second round of open enrollment began this weekend.
“I think the vast majority of people coming to the site were able to get on and do what they were intending to do,” Burwell told Chuck Todd in an interview on NBC’s "Meet the Press," noting that a total of 500,000 people had logged onto HealthCare.gov on Saturday.
The numbers, not to mention a lack of widespread technological glitches on the website, were cause for celebration within the Obama administration. But the second round of enrollment has been partially obscured by comments made by Jonathan Gruber, a MIT economics professor and former consultant to the Obama administration who worked on the Affordable Care Act. Year old videos surfaced last week of Gruber saying “the stupidity of American voters” was critical to getting the Affordable Care Act passed, and have drawn heavy fire from Republicans officials and conservative news organizations.
Asked about Gruber's remarks on Sunday, Burwell, who started her post at HHS in June, pushed back.
"I have to start with how fundamentally I disagree with his comments about the bill and about the American people,” she said. "Since I've been at the department, one of the things I've focused on is transparency."
Burwell is among many Administration officials who have tried to distance the White House from Gruber in recent days. Former White House senior advisor David Axlerod was more blunt in his assessment of Gruber, posting the following to Twitter on Sunday:
At a Sunday news conference in Australia, Obama, too, tried to discredit Gruber, calling him “some advisor who never worked on our staff” who expressed an “opinion I completely disagree with.” The president argued the health care law was subject to a year-long debate before it was enacted.
He also didn’t pass up an opportunity to plug his website one more time.
"Healthcare.gov works really well now,” Obama said. “Health care is working. More than 10 million people have already gotten health insurance. Millions more are eligible.”
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