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Health care site put to the test as deadline arrives

Tuesday - 12/24/2013, 5:51pm  ET

CHICAGO (AP) -- The government's revamped health care website has been put to its biggest test. Americans have been rushing to beat today's extended deadline for signing up for health care coverage that will take effect by the first of January.

The website where people in 36 states can shop for insurance has received nearly 2 million visits yesterday -- and officials say it's handling the traffic well. The website went through extensive hardware and software upgrades to make it more reliable and increase its capacity.

Yesterday's one-day grace period was the latest in a series of delays and extensions that have marked the rollout of the health care law. And critics of the law have seized on the extension as more evidence that the program is in trouble.

Health economist Gail Wilensky, who ran Medicare for President George W. Bush, ridiculed what she calls an "amazing, ever-expanding deadline." She says it's "a sign of desperation by the administration to do everything they can to increase the number of people signing up."

161-r-22-(Sound of unidentified counselor, speaking with caller to D.C. Health Link call center)-"look into it for you?"-Sound of unidentified counselor speaking with a caller to a DC Health Link call center. ((Note: Washington D.C. is running its own health insurance marketplace and is not subject to the federal government's enrollment deadline.)) (24 Dec 2013)

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015-v-27-(Sagar Meghani (SAH'-gur meh-GAH'-nee), AP correspondent)--It's deadline day for health insurance shopping -- again. AP correspondent Sagar Meghani reports. (24 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO NY122: FILE - In this Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013, file photo, Rosemary Cabelo uses a computer at a public library to access the Affordable Health Care Act website, in San Antonio. Health care workers and officials in Texas on Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, rushed to sign people up for insurance plans, even after receiving a one-day extension on a deadline for customers buying coverage under the new federal health care law to have their plans kick in Jan. 1. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File) (11 Dec 2013)

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