White House praying that most people stay away from healthcare.gov this weekend
No, seriously. They worry about another disaster after the president's promise that the website would be mostly fixed by December 1.
Well, it's not mostly fixed. Apparently, the site still can't handle large numbers of visitors and the White House is pleading with its supporters not to push consumers into enrolling.
White House officials, fearful that the federal health care website may again be overwhelmed this weekend, have urged their allies to hold back enrollment efforts so the insurance marketplace does not collapse under a crush of new users.
At the same time, administration officials said Tuesday that they had decided not to inaugurate a big health care marketing campaign planned for December out of concern that it might drive too many people to the still-fragile HealthCare.gov.
With a self-imposed deadline for repairs to the website approaching on Saturday, the administration is trying to strike a delicate balance. It is encouraging people to go or return to the website but does not want to create too much demand. It boasts that the website is vastly improved, but does not want to raise expectations that it will work for everyone.
"We are definitely on track to have a significantly different user experience by the end of this month," Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said Tuesday. "That was our commitment."
Ms. Sebelius, who supervised development of the troubled website, tried to rally state and local elected officials in a conference call organized by the White House. "I would urge you and your folks on the ground to not hesitate to recommend that people go to HealthCare.gov and get signed up," she said.
Officials said the website was now able to handle 50,000 users at a time, providing enough capacity on a daily basis to enroll millions of people in the next four months.
But those charged with fixing the site worry that 250,000 people might try to use the site simultaneously at times on Saturday and in the days ahead. They say that pent-up demand for insurance in the federal marketplace, combined with a surge of interest among people merely curious about whether it is working, could bring the website to a crawl.
"Our concern is that we want to make sure that people have the right expectation going into this," said Jennifer Palmieri, the White House communications director. "Early October was a frustrating experience for users. We are preparing for the outcome that we have as many or more visitors as we had on Oct. 1."
People who are desperate for insurance because their policies were cancelled or forced to purchase insurance due to the mandate will probably crash the system again. And again. But enough people are probably going to be signed up by January 1 that Obama will be able to claim "success." Of course, who is signing up will determine if Obamacare is really working or not. Too many old, sick, people and it's curtains.
The administration's billion dollar push to enroll people in Obamacare jas just become a 10 cent operation.