Obamacare Website 'On Track' to Handle 50K Users at a Time; Excess Will Be Wait-Listed

By Susan Jones | November 26, 2013 | 6:56am EST

The Obamacare website, HealthCare.gov. (AP)

(CNSNews.com)  - The Obama White House offered an upbeat assessment Monday on its efforts to fix the broken healthcare.gov website: "The last I heard from CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), is that we are -- we continue to be on track to meeting the goals that we established for ourselves and established for the website on November 30th," spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters  on Monday.

He said the website is moving faster, with pages now loading in less than one second, compared with six-to-eight seconds when the website first went live. He also said the website's "error rate" is now below one percent, compared with 6 percent earlier.

By the end of the month, the website "should be able to handle 50,000 concurrent users," Earnest said, up from the 20-25K it is currently handling. And if you're not one of them, you can wait in line:

"The other important development that's gotten a little bit less attention is they have also put in place a queuing system so that if there are more than 50,000 people trying to use the website, individuals can choose to receive an email from CMS when the traffic on the website has been reduced, and that email will basically give them a link, and if you click on the link you can jump to the front of the line to access the website.

"So that would be a way for us to better manage the flow of traffic to the website. It also will significantly enhance the consumer experience on the website," Earnest said.

But that wait list may be very long. In its November enrollment report, the Department of Health and Human services said there were 26,876,527 unique visitors to the state-based and federally facilitated exchanges since they went online on Oct. 1.

Despite "a lot of improvements" to the website, Earnest admitted that "the folks at CMS will be the first ones to tell you that this continues to be a work in progress; that there are additional improvements to the website that need to be made. They continue to work through a punch list. I know that there are several dozen items that they identified at the end of last week that they hope to try to address over the course of this week.

"I haven't gotten an update about where they stand on that punch list, but suffice it to say there is no shortage of areas that need the attention of developers and other technology experts as they try to confront some of the challenges with the website. But we are pleased with the progress that they've made and we are -- we believe that they are on track to meet the goal that we've set for the website...on November 30th.

Earnest denied that President Obama's trip to California was meant to distract from the Obamacare controversy.

"Based on the questions you guys asked me this morning, if that was our strategy, it would not be a successful one," he said, adding that the goal of the trip is to "highlight the breadth of the President's domestic agenda."

"Smoothing out the kinks of the rollout of the Affordable Care Act is certainly a top priority of the President, and it's an important way for us to secure the economic benefits for middle-class families. But that's not the only thing.

"And we can't lose sight of the importance of moving on immigration reform. We can't lose sight of the importance of making critical investments in infrastructure, and research and development, and education that are so critical to creating jobs. We can't lose sight of the fact that Congress shouldn't be inflicting additional wounds in the economy by threatening a government shutdown or risking the full faith and credit of the United States of America. Congress should be focused on putting in place policies that will actually support an economic recovery that has made a lot of progress in bouncing back from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

"So there are a lot of things that we can be doing in addition to health care. We have no trouble getting you guys to write about health care these days, so let's spend some time talking about some of these other things that also deserve a lot of attention."

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