POLITICS: PennAve

CMS: 2 million visits to healthcare.gov before deadline

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

The website healthcare.gov received 2 million visitors on Monday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced, as the administration makes a final push to enroll consumers in Obamacare's new insurance exchanges before 2014.

CMS spokesperson Julie Bataille touted the website visits and an additional 250,000 calls to phone call centers, saying they showed “amazing interest in signing up for Jan. 1.”

“It was a record day yesterday for healthcare.gov and the marketplace,” said Bataille in a statement Tuesday. “We see this intense traffic as a sign that people are eager for affordable health insurance.”

Monday marked a critical deadline-- the last day for consumers to enroll if they wanted coverage from Jan. 1. But that deadline was quietly extended to the end of Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. The White House did not announce the delay, which was first reported by the Washington Post.

According to reports, the administration extended the deadline to address concerns that a surge in holiday traffic to register would cause problems and prevent consumers from getting coverage Jan. 1.

It was the second extension for consumers to register to receive coverage Jan. 1, after the administration changed the original deadline of Dec. 15 to Dec. 23.

“CMS is spending today completing enrollments for individuals seeking affordable coverage beginning Jan. 1,” said Bataille on Tuesday, ahead of the new deadline. “Volumes remain high, but not equal to yesterday and have not had to deploy our queuing system on the site. We are taking thousands of calls at our call centers, which remain open until midnight, and we are seeing thousands of visitors complete enrollment online.”

Following weak enrollment numbers after the glitch-riddled launch of healthcare.gov, the administration launched a “tech surge” to fix the website and a new enrollment push to reach their targets. Despite their efforts, the administration though is well behind their goal of signing up 7 million in Obamacare’s insurance exchanges.

Critics of the health law have cited the website troubles, the numerous delays and President Obama's broken promise that consumers would not be dropped from current health plans despite new regulations as proof his signature domestic achievement is unworkable.

The botched rollout of the exchanges have led to Obama’s lowest approval ratings and cut support for the health reforms. But the president insists that as more Americans begin to receive Obamacare’s benefits, support for the law will grow.

Insurers warn though that continued back-end problems with the website could prevent consumers from receiving coverage on time and that the health law's real test will come on New Year's Day.

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

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