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Exchange managers hope for last-minute rush

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Officials at say business is picking up.

The enrollment system website recorded 895,000 visits Tuesday, and the HHS exchange call center received about 197,000 calls Monday and 200,000 calls Tuesday, officials reported today.

The call center is busier than it’s been since December, officials said.

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exchange plan enrollment activity soared in December, as well-publicized enrollment deadlines for coverage starting Jan. 1 approached and passed.

Activity then fell in January, and again in February.

Open enrollment ends March 31.

Exchange critics have wondered whether the exchanges would really get a March enrollment surge, or whether the exchanges’ 15 minutes of fame had come and gone.

Officials at state-based exchanges say they’re now in a better position to help any surge that materializes because of improvements in websites and call center operations.

In Maryland, for example, officials say the average wait for consumers trying to reach the call center has fallen to about four minutes this month, from more than 37 minutes in December.

The Congressional Budget Office originally predicted that the public exchanges might attract plan enrollees by the end of 2014.

Analysts at Avalere Health suggested the exchanges could attract 5.4 million enrollees by March 31.

An official at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported this week that the exchanges have received plan selection information for 5 million consumers.

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