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POLITICS: PennAve

CMS touts 'record day' for healthcare.gov as deadline nears

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Politics,White House,Health Care,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,CMS,Healthcare.gov

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Monday touted a “record day” for healthcare.gov, as the administration pushed to enroll consumers in Obamacare exchanges before a key deadline.

The website had received more than 850,000 visitors by 2 p.m., CMS Office of Communications Director Julie Bataille said in a statement.

She said that figure is “approximately five times higher than the same amount by that time last Monday” and added that there were an additional 1.2 million site visits over the weekend.

While CMS was forced to deploy a queuing system during high-volume times, Bataille said that the system was handling the record traffic “well, with a low overall error rate averaging less than 0.4 percent and quick response times.”

The original deadline for consumers to sign up for the health law's new insurance exchanges in order to receive coverage at the start of the new year was Dec. 15, but the administration pushed that back to Dec. 23. Over the weekend, CMS quietly delayed the deadline yet again, extending it until the end of Christmas Eve on Dec. 24.

The move was first reported by the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The White House did not announce the change.

Despite the additional time, CMS said, “the deadline for signing up for coverage to start January 1 is today.”

“Anticipating high demand, which we are currently experiencing, and the fact that consumers may be enrolling from multiple time zones, we have taken steps to make sure that those who tried to enroll today but had delays due to high traffic have a fail-safe,” said Bataille. “Consumers should not wait until tomorrow. If you are aiming to get coverage January 1, you should try to sign up today.”

The launch of the healthcare.gov website was plagued by numerous technical issues which prevented many consumers from registering and undercut the enrollment drive.

After a “tech surge” the White House launched a new push to boost enrollment amid polls showing plummeting support for the health care law and President Obama.

The open enrollment period ends March 31, after which those without insurance will be subject to fines.

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