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Colorado health care exchange stalled on first day, now running

DENVER — Colorado’s new health care exchange, an online marketplace offering more than 500 policies, experienced problems Monday morning just hours after it went live, as did exchanges in other states.

While opponents of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s landmark health care reform law, viewed the news as evidence the law isn’t ready for primetime, backers of the law argued that the high demand, which they blame for overwhelming computer servers, shows that the law is actually quite popular.

More than a thousand Coloradans had created new customer accounts in the first two hours since the exchange went live; and 34,000 people had already visited the site.

“It’s a little hard to get in, because there’s a line out the door,” said Ben Davis, a spokesman for Connect for Health Colorado.

As of 3:15 p.m., hours after the glitches were fixed, Connect for Health Colorado reported that 55,500 visitors had logged on to the site and that 1,400 accounts had been created.

“We’re very pleased with our progress today and the strong interest that we’ve seen from consumers,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Patty Fontneau in a statement Tuesday afternoon, also noting that customer service representatives had taken some 3,000 inquiries over the phone and online.

“Thousands of Coloradans have already begun learning about their new options and shopping for health insurance through our Marketplace and we are providing high quality customer support.”

When the website stalled, would-be shoppers encountered an error message: “Due to overwhelming interest, we are temporarily suspending the creation of accounts. Please continue to browse plans. Thank you for your patience.”

Critics of the law argued that more of the $21 million that’s spent to market the exchange in Colorado should have gone toward servers.

“Maybe the money wasted on ads should have been used to make sure what was advertised would work,” said Dustin Zvonek, state director of Americans for Prosperity.

President Obama, during a speech in the Rose Garden Tuesday morning aimed at putting pressure on House Republicans on the first day of a partial government shutdown, acknowledged the glitches with exchanges in several states.

“Like every new law, every new product roll out, there are going to be some glitches in the signup process along the way that we will fix. I’ve been saying this from the start,” he said, adding that more than 1 million people visited the Obamacare website before 7 a.m.