"To put that in context, there were five times more users in the marketplace this morning than have ever been on Medicare.gov at one time. That gives you a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans around the country, and that's a good thing. And we're going to be speeding things up in the next few hours to handle all this demand that exceeds anything that we had expected."
The exchanges and other core components of the PPACA remain operational despite the government shutdown on Tuesday because they are funded through mandatory appropriations, HHS said. The president on Tuesday reaffirmed his rejection of demands by House Republicans who refuse to pass a stop-gap budget to keep the federal government open unless the administration agrees to delay by one year the implementation of the PPACA.
"I'll work with anybody who's got a serious idea to make the Affordable Care Act work better. I've said that repeatedly," Obama said. "But as long as I am president I will not give in to reckless demands by some in the Republican Party to deny affordable health insurance to millions of hardworking Americans."
In addition to the 2.8 million visits on the exchange website, HHS reported that by mid-afternoon another 81,000 people called an exchange hotline, and 60,000 requested live chats. However, HHS officials at an afternoon media teleconference repeatedly declined to tell reporters how many people had signed up for coverage, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2014 for people who enroll before mid-December.