By Justin Sink
The administration is standing behind its goal of having the troubled HealthCare.gov website working by the end of the month, White House Director of Communications Jen Palmieri said Wednesday.
Her statement comes despite a Washington Post report, citing an anonymous official familiar with the project, that says the technical problems plaguing the ObamaCare site were likely insurmountable within that time frame.
In an interview with New York magazine, Palmieri said the administration still expected the site to work "for the vast majority of users" by Nov. 30.
According to the Post's source, the website is unable to handle more than 30,000 simultaneous users, and experts have been unable to resolve that issue. That's despite the website being designed to handle double that number of users, and traffic during the first week of the launch showing that as many as a quarter of a million consumers were logging on to the website at the same time.
"I wonder who the 'official' is," she said.
A spokesman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) also seemed to downplay concerns over meeting the deadline in a statement to The Hill on Wednesday.
“The challenges we are addressing today are a snapshot of November 12, not November 30,” said Julie Bataille, director of communications for the CMS. “We are working 24/7 to make improvements so that by the end of the month the site is working smoothly for the vast majority of users. We are making progress, including fixes to reduce error rates and get the site moving faster.”
Failure to meet the Nov. 30 deadline would strike another serious credibility blow to the embattled ObamaCare program, and undoubtedly lead to a new flood of calls for extending the insurance enrollment period and delaying the individual mandate at the heart of the legislation.
It would also be a political disaster for the White House, which has struggled with a flood of negative press about problems with the president’s signature legislative achievement.