Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, who has spent months fending off critics of the Affordable Care Act rollout, is touting the more than 2 million people who have signed up for coverage despite the troubled website.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Sebelius said that Jan. 1 marks "an exciting new day in health care as millions of Americans will now be able to access care, thanks to the coverage they found at the Health Insurance Marketplace."

While the number who have signed up under the law thus far falls short of the administration's goal of 3.3 million by year's end, it is far better than the paltry numbers cited in the first weeks of the rollout.

Sebelius said her department was working "to ensure that every American who wants to enroll in Marketplace coverage by the end of the open enrollment period on March 31st, 2014, is able to do so."

Reuters reports:

"Sign-ups for what has become known as 'Obamacare' gained pace during December as the website's performance improved, and as more Americans focused on getting coverage by the new year."Many of the newly insured under the 'Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act' enrolled just ahead of a Dec. 24 deadline to receive benefits on Jan. 1, giving health insurers a tight framework to create accounts that can be accessed by doctors."

"October and November were essentially lost months," Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, tells The Washington Post's Wonkblog. "December is the first month where we're getting an indication of how things are working. It's starting to track with what people, particularly the CBO, projected originally."

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