Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said Wednesday that the Obama administration would not extend the deadline for people to sign up for health insurance or delay the requirement for most Americans to have coverage. There will also be no delay in the penalty most Americans face under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law if they fail to obtain health coverage this year. Last year, embracing nonpartisan estimates for the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius set a benchmark for the new insurance marketplaces: "Success looks like at least 7 million people having signed up by the end of March 2014," she said to NBC. Enrollment, however, began at a terribly slow pace in October because of all the technical problems with HealthCare.gov, the federal health exchange website serving 36 states. Some state-run health exchange websites have had their own problems as well. Within that context, Sebelius on Wednesday redefined what success looks like: "Success looks like millions of people with affordable health coverage, which we will have by the end of March," she told the House Ways and Means Committee. The administration released the latest enrollment figures on Tuesday—revealing that some 4.2 million Americans have signed up for coverage on the new exchanges. However, that figure does not include how many people have actually paid for their plans—a metric that could make the actual number of enrollees significantly lower.
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