Obamacare website improved, but not flawless

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The past two months have been a monster for President Obama, but the administration got some good news Saturday as the Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov, showed signs of progress after a disastrous October rollout.

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration reached its self-imposed deadline Saturday to repair the malfunctioning HealthCare.gov site, showing progress but far from total success.

The site was clearly better, with improved load times, greater server capacity and a seemingly lower error rate.

But nobody, including the administration, was claiming anything close to flawless performance after a disastrous Oct. 1 rollout that has badly hurt President Obama’s approval ratings.

The stated goal for Saturday was to improve the site so 50,000 users could be on simultaneously, with as many as 800,000 able to visit during a 24-hour period.

To achieve that — or at least get close to it — the site was taken down by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for 11 hours overnight Friday for maintenance.

A standard four-hour maintenance period was scheduled for late Saturday night into early Sunday morning — a clear indication hardware and software were still needed.

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The government had promised that by Saturday, HealthCare.gov would be able to handle 800,000 visitors a day. But instead, the website was shut down for maintenance that lasted 11 hours.

MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS

The government had promised that by Saturday, HealthCare.gov would be able to handle 800,000 visitors a day. But instead, the website was shut down for maintenance that lasted 11 hours.

Still, there were generally upbeat assessments from a variety of users, including firms hired to help enroll people, the new system’s so-called navigators.

“Overall, we’ve seen improvements for our navigators to successfully get people through the site. We’ve had a significant increase in the number of enrollments over the last two weeks,” Karen Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, told the Daily News.

“Yes, our navigators do continue to get ‘locked out’ on occasion, but it’s getting better every day. As for where we are today, again, it’s improving.”

Egozi was in the news recently when Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), dropped by a Miami center to see some of her 50 navigators at work.

With media in tow, the website failed.

Presumably, those types of debacles will be less frequent.

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The White House has been focused intently on Saturday's deadline, which the administration asserted didn't represent a 'relaunch' of the site. The botched Oct. 1 rollout of HealthCare.gov has hurt President Obama's approval ratings.

Susan Walsh/AP

The White House has been focused intently on Saturday’s deadline, which the administration asserted didn’t represent a ‘relaunch’ of the site. The botched Oct. 1 rollout of HealthCare.gov has hurt President Obama’s approval ratings.

Officials said 90% of users could now create accounts on the site.

But some tech experts said that metric was misleading, given that any claim below a 100% success rate could not be verified.

“It prevents anyone from the outside from contradicting them,” said Jonathan Wu, co-founder of the consumer financial website ValuePenguin.

He told Reuters only those working on the website know whether the 90% figure is accurate.

The bug-ridden site helps explain the sharp drop in Obama’s standings, including among politically important moderates and independents.

Obama’s approval rating reached an all-time low last month. A CBS News poll found a dreadful 37% of Americans said the President was doing a good job.

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Officials say 90% of users could now create accounts on HealthCare.gov (pictured), but others question that figure.

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Officials say 90% of users could now create accounts on HealthCare.gov (pictured), but others question that figure.

For the first time, his competence, even his candor, is being questioned.

In recent days, the administration sought to lower expectations about a deadline it set arbitrarily.

That included Obama himself moving from the promise that the website would handle the “vast majority” of users to “the majority” of users.

The administration also asserted that Saturday didn’t represent a “relaunch” of the site, only the latest date to check on improvement.

By day’s end, the state of play was fairly clear for many who have been intimately involved.

“While it has definitely improved, there’s obviously still a ways to go,” said Egozi.

“It’s not yet where we need it to be to get everyone enrolled that we want to, but we’re doing our best with what we’ve got.”

The site is operated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a division of HHS. It did not hold a Saturday briefing on the site’s status but will do so Sunday.

With Stephen Rex Brown and News Wire Services


Health – NY Daily News

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