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Obamacare enrollment officially over 7 million, White House says

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(CBSNEWS) - Before open enrollment closed at midnight Monday night, 7,041,000 people signed up for private insurance coverage via the Obamacare marketplaces, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

The administration managed to meet its initial enrollment goals after a "remarkable surge" on HealthCare.gov in the final days of the six-month open enrollment period. On Monday alone, more than 200,000 people signed up on HealthCare.gov, the site that serves as the portal to Obamacare for 36 states. The final figure that Carney gave -- 7,041,000 -- does not include last-minute sign-ups from the 14 states that run their own Obamacare marketplaces.

After HealthCare.gov's disastrous launch in October, it seemed highly unlikely that the administration would enroll 7 million Americans in private insurance through the new marketplaces, as it aimed to do. Carney noted Tuesday that doubts about the central component of the Affordable Care Act predate the website problems.

"I have seen people say meaningful health care reform could not be done more times than I could count," he said.

He also noted the Republican Party's stalwart opposition to the program, from its inception through the ongoing midterm campaigns. "Republicans have spent millions on false ads, they've blocked Medicaid expansion in dozens of states... they've shut down the government," he said. "That effort could not stop this law from working."

Carney said he had no information on the demographic breakdown of the enrollees, nor did he have information about how many people were previously insured -- two pieces of data that could give more insight into how successful the new marketplaces will be.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Tuesday maintained that the Affordable Care Act is a "catastrophe for the country."

"What we do know is that all across the country our constituents are having an unpleasant interaction with Obamacare," he told reporters. "Whether they can sign up for a policy or not, what they are discovering is higher premiums [and] higher deductibles."

Democratic leaders in Congress hailed the law's success while acknowledging it is not perfect.

"This is a big bill, and if we had working partners as we used to with Republicans, there are other things we could do to work on this," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of the law. "But [Republicans] have been determined to do nothing"

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., similarly chastised the continued Republican opposition to the law. She said Democrats were committed to the ACA's principles even as the law faltered and will stay committed to them, even through the election season.

"While the website didn't work [initially], the principles of the legislation were very, very important and we're wedded to them as we go forward," she said.

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