House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the health care law enrollment figures released Wednesday are "a symbol of failure" of the program and underscore the need for a GOP legislative fix.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said about 106,000 people enrolled under the new law, nearly 27,000 on newly created federal exchanges. But that's only about a fifth of the number that were expected before the onslaught of website glitches and the realization by many that they would have to buy more expensive plans.
"Millions of Americans are being told their health coverage is canceled at the same time that they are shut out of the government website," Boehner said in a statement. "And even if they do manage to navigate the system, many are being rewarded with sticker shock, not the lower prices the president promised."
Boehner called the law "a rolling calamity that must be stopped."
But Democrats continued to defend President Obama's signature achievement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., noted that 975,000 people shopped for insurance on the new exchanges even though they haven't selected plan.
“Even with the difficulties of the website, nearly a million Americans have completed the eligibility process for the quality, affordable coverage available on the health insurance marketplaces," Pelosi said.
Pelosi also pointed to the large number of additional people who were enrolled under Obamacare's expanded Medicaid coverage for adults.
"We have seen tremendous demand for what the Affordable Care Act has to offer, and more than 500,000 Americans have already secured quality coverage for themselves and their families," Pelosi said.
Republicans questioned the new enrollment figures and whether they represent people who are shopping for plans, rather than those who have officially signed up for plans and paid for them.
"Given that these early enrollment numbers are inflated to include those just ‘shopping’ for a plan, it is clear that the real truth is even worse than we are being told," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., said.
Based on the administration's own numbers, Camp said, 68,000 people would have to sign up every day to meet the administration's year-end goal.
The House on Friday will take up a bill sponsored by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich., that would allow private insurers to continue to offer the policies purchased before March 2010, even if those policies have been changed.
In the Senate, a growing coalition of Democrats are backing legislation authored by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., that would allow people to keep grandfathered plans through 2014, a proposal the White House has signaled it may support.