Joe Biden (White House photo)

Vice President Joe Biden has acknowledged the possibility that public exchange plans could get fewer 2014 enrollees than they had hoped.

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Biden talked about Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act public exchange enrollment efforts at a private event in Minneapolis.

Biden told the group, “If we get to 5 or 6 million, that’s a hell of a start,” according to AP.

Congressional Budget Office analysts estimated about a year ago that the QHPs could end 2014 with about 7 million enrollees.

Republican leaders of the House Energy & Commerce Committee highlighted the story on their website with the headline “VP Biden Moves Obamacare Goalposts And Still Fails to Reveal #WhosPaid.

“Only Vice President Biden could portray falling short of expectations by nearly 30 percent as success,” committee leaders said in a comment on the AP story.

The lawmakers noted that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies have been using whether consumers have selected “qualified health plans,” not whether the consumers have paid for the QHP coverage, as the QHP enrollment activity indicator.

HHS said the QHPs ended Jan. 31 with 3.3 million would-be enrollees. The number of paid enrollees may be as low as 2.6 million, the lawmakers said, citing an estimate from the National Journal.

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