WASHINGTON DC - The total enrollment sign-up target for the Affordable Care Act met its goal Tuesday with 7.1 million people who have signed up on federal or state exchanges for coverage.
The enrollment period began in October with a horribly designed federal website and ended with a far too many people people turning away in frustration.
Obama said the program approved by Congress in 2010 -- with no Republican support and knocked every way they could muster.
Obama said it wasn't perfect and predicted more hurdles in carrying it out.
The overall goal of starting to narrow the gap between those with health coverage and those without it has begun, and millions of Americans are embracing it, Obama said.
But signs of a pickup began in late January and continued into February and early March despite a fierce campaign by Republicans to demonize the law as unworkable.
Administration officials said an absolute crush of people pushed the program -- Obama's chief domestic accomplishment -- over the finish line at the 11th hour. More than 4.8 million visits were made to HealthCare.gov on Monday alone.
Officials stressed that the 7.1 million figure represents only those who signed up for coverage. Those who came in late and encountered technical problems have until mid-April to complete the process. Private insurers are providing the coverage.
Health of Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told an Oklahoma TV station on Monday that insurers were reporting that 80% to 90% had paid so far.
The law also includes expanded Medicaid insurance for the poor in many states, but those participants are not part of the sign-up total.
Republicans, especially in the House, have waged a nonstop campaign to repeal or roll back the Affordable Care Act, saying it was rammed through Congress without their input and now is another illustration of big government at its worst.
"That's why we must replace this fundamentally flawed law with patient-centered solutions that will actually lower health care costs and help create jobs," Steel said.
Democrats on the stump, especially those who voted for it and now find themselves in tight races, have recalibrated their position with Obama's presidency not much help to them with voters overall in their states.
But Obama said at the White House that the law is good for the country, regardless of politics, and that the numbers show Americans want it and that it's "here to stay."
Americans are divided over how they view the law. Last month, 46% said they viewed it unfavorably, down 4 points since January, and 38% said they viewed it favorably, up 4 points over the same time period, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
Those who held unfavorable views cited concerns about costs (23%), opposition to the individual mandate (17%), and concerns about government intrusion (10%).
Those with favorable views cited expanded access to health care and health insurance (61%), followed by the perception that it will control health care costs and make it more affordable (10%) and that it will be good for the country (7%).
The telephone survey of 1,504 adults was conducted March 11 to 17 and had a sampling error of plus or minus 3 points.
Professor Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton University, said he was not surprised at the last-minute rush to sign up.
"I think the prayer of the conservatives that this would collapse just didn't get answered," he told CNN. "It fills a need."
He predicted conservatives would chip away at whatever the number proves to be.
The interview with Galifianakis, along with a promotional push from Miami Heat forward LeBron James, were cited by administration officials as two of the most effective components in the push to enroll young Americans on the health care exchanges. The overall effort, the White House said, surpassed their expectations in terms of last-minute sign-ups.
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