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Obama: 500K healthcare signups in December

President Obama said during a Friday press conference that more than 500,000 people signed up at HealthCare.gov in the first three weeks of December, a major spike in enrollments that signals improvement at the troubled website.

The 500,000 figure outpaces the total number of enrollments for October and November combined, and brings the number of people enrolled in ObamaCare to more than 1 million.

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The White House has been slowly digging out of a hole of negative news about the rollout that has dragged down Obama's poll numbers. 

The Obama administration is hoping that 7 million people buy health insurance on the new exchanges during the ongoing six-month enrollment period. The last day to sign up is March 31.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has not put out an official enrollment report for the month of December, but said last week that 365,000 people had signed up across the country as of the end of November.

The month of December was expected to see the highest number of sign-ups so far, due to both improvements at HealthCare.gov and the need for many people to have health insurance that begins Jan. 1.

Users at HealthCare.gov must pick plans by Dec. 23 in order for them to kick in on New Year's Day. 

Republicans noted that the administration is behind its target of enrolling more than 3 million people by Dec. 31.

"These are not just arbitrary numbers," said Sarah Swinehart, communications director for the House Ways and Means Committee, in a statement.

"Not meeting these targets will have repercussions — Americans whose plans were cancelled may not be able to enroll and premiums will skyrocket."

— This story was updated at 5:03 p.m.