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Chris O'Meara, Associated Press
Ashley Hentze, left, of Lakeland, Fla., gets help signing up for health care from Kristen Nash, a volunteer with Enroll America, a private, non-profit organization running a grassroots campaign to encourage people to sign up for health care, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, Tampa, Fla.

ATLANTA — After three years of bashing President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, Republican governors were surprisingly mute on the first day consumers could shop for insurance policies through online marketplaces.

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But in the 36 mostly Republican states that left the operation of their exchanges to the federal government, consumer interest was high, while Democrats and advocacy groups took the lead in promoting the latest provision of the law.

Houston resident Priscilla McAfee said she was "thrilled that the United States is finally catching up with some of the other countries in the world that provide health care."

McAfee currently has a COBRA policy after losing her job, and said she planned to use an exchange to buy a new policy.