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the national interest

White House Says Fixing Healthcare.gov by the End of the Month Is Still Doable

A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov insurance exchange internet site October 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. A woman looks at the HealthCare.gov insurance exchange internet site October 1, 2013 in Washington, DC. US President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is commonly called, passed in March 2010, went into effect Tuesday at 8am EST. Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the new health insurance exchanges Tuesday morning. Consumers attempting to log on were met with an error message early Tuesday due to an overload of Internet traffic.  Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it is commonly called, passed in March 2010, went into effect Tuesday at 8am EST. Heavy Internet traffic and system problems plagued the launch of the new health insurance exchanges Tuesday morning. Consumers attempting to log on were met with an error message early Tuesday due to an overload of Internet traffic. AFP PHOTO / Karen BLEIER        (Photo credit should read KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

The Obama administration continues to stand behind its prediction that it will fix the Obamacare website "for the vast majority of users" by the end of the month, administration spokesperson Jennifer Palmieri confirms over e-mail. Numerous reporters and analysts have steadily lost confidence that the administration can hit this target date. Last week, a spokesperson for the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services told reporters, "As we have fixed certain pieces of functionality, like the account creation process, we’re seeing volume go further down the application. We’re identifying new issues that we need to be in a position to troubleshoot."

The revelation of new, previously undiscovered problems sounded like an implicit concession that the original end-of-month target date was no longer attainable — or at least, less certain than before. Palmieri told me the administration had not backed away, writing, "What Jeff Zients said on his press call was that we have encountered more problems to be solved and even so they believe the website will be working well for a majority of users by Nov. 30th." (I asked if promising the site would work for a "majority" of users represented a backing away from the promise it would work for "the vast majority," and Palmieri replied that her omission of "vast" was merely an oversight.)

Last night, the Washington Post reported that, according to "an official with knowledge of the project," the site is "unlikely to work fully by the end of the month." I asked Palmieri if this report changed things, and she replied, "I wonder who the 'official' is."

So it appears that, by the end of the month, the administration will be facing a new political fiasco or will have delivered a Hanukkah-time miracle.

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Photo: Karen BleierKAREN BLEIER/AFP/GEtty Images2013 AFP