Only 136 Iowans and 1,370 Illinoisans were able to select an insurance plan in the first month of operation of the Affordable Care Act's online marketplace, according to figures released Wednesday by the Obama administration.

Nationally, 106,185 Americans were able to select plans, the administration said.

The figures are a fraction of the 7 million people the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicted would be enrolled in coverage by the end of next year.

The administration also had predicted a half million enrollees nationwide by the end of the first month, according to The Washington Post.

The rollout of the online exchanges has been hampered by the problems with the federally run HealthCare.gov website, and officials had tried to dampen expectations for the first release of figures, warning they would be smaller than what they had hoped for.

Still, supporters of the law said Wednesday it was a step forward.

"While the numbers are not as high as everyone would like, we should all step back, take a deep breath and recognize the significance of these numbers," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.

In addition to the 106,000 who signed up for private plans, another 400,000 were deemed eligible for Medicaid or children's health insurance plans, he said.

"These are hard facts, not rhetoric or politics," he said.

In Iowa, 4,490 had been declared eligible for Medicaid or the children's health insurance program. In Illinois, that figure was 19,447.

Obama administration officials also were upbeat.

"The marketplace is working, and people are enrolling," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said on a conference call with reporters.

Still, the figures for Iowa and Illinois demonstrated the impact of the HealthCare.gov problems.

Although 6,104 Iowans had been declared eligible to enroll in a marketplace plan, only 2.2 percent were able to do so. In Illinois, 3.8 percent had done so.

For states that developed their own websites, 21 percent of those declared eligible had been able to select a plan.

Overall, 27,000 had picked a plan through the federally facilitated website, while about 79,000 had done so via state-run websites. People from Iowa and Illinois go through the federal website.

Cliff Gold, chief operating officer for CoOportunity Health, said Wednesday that HealthCare.gov was improving but enrollments had gone only from "a drop to a trickle."

Republican critics, meanwhile, continued to draw attention to people who have had their policies canceled.

"For every person who has gained coverage through Obamacare, 10 people have lost their current coverage because of Obamacare," Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said after the numbers were released.  "It should be delayed if not outright repealed for the good of the country. The president should admit what a disaster it is."

The administration has said that it will have the website mostly fixed by the end of the month, but there have been recent reports casting doubts on whether that's achievable.

Administration officials also said that while the number of people who have been able to select a plan thus far is relatively small — just 1.5 percent of projections for first-year enrollment — Obama officials said it surpasses the first month's enrollment in Massachusetts health care reform plan.

(Deirdre Cox Baker contributed to this story.)