OVERNIGHT HEALTH: Exchanges still overwhelmed

The portal to sign up for coverage through ObamaCare's new insurance exchanges remained stymied by heavy traffic Wednesday — the second day of the six-month enrollment window.

A White House official said on Wednesday that healthcare.gov had received more than 6 million visits, including the 4.7 million it ultimately clocked on Tuesday. And the Health and Human Services Department said the heavy traffic — not programming errors — was to blame for the difficulty consumers had accessing the site.

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The website remained overwhelmed on Wednesday. Visitors faced long waits to access the site's registration process, and some were still unable to create accounts.

The problems aren't making life any easier for the Obama administration, but President Obama himself repeatedly predicted "glitches" in the rollout, and as officials have noted this week, consumers still have until Dec. 15 to sign up for coverage that begins Jan. 1 — the same time it will take effect if they sign up this week.

Read Healthwatch's Wednesday update.

New ad buy: ObamaCare supporters announced a new $5 million public-relations campaign to boost enrollment. Get Covered America, the campaign spearheaded by Enroll America, said the latest campaign will focus mostly on digital ads targeted toward uninsured consumers.

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"Our unprecedented digital outreach effort will allow us to reach the uninsured — especially women, young Americans, African-Americans, and Latinos who get a lot of their information online — with the information they need, where and when they need it," Enroll America President Anne Filipic said in a statement.

Door to door: A prominent House Republican slammed ObamaCare "navigators" in Florida for reportedly promoting the law door to door after an administration official said the workers would not use that approach. 

"This incident further underscores the need for thoughtful oversight of the Navigators program," House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) wrote in a blog post Wednesday.

Watch the Fox News report on the navigators here.

Reid clarifies: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sought to clarify comments he made in a testy exchange with a reporter on Wednesday, after conservatives pounced on what they portrayed as a serious government shutdown gaffe. "Republicans are in such desperate straits that they have literally resorted to accusing me of not caring about kids with cancer. Shameful," Reid tweeted.

Earlier on Wednesday, Reid was engaged in a terse back-and-forth with CNN reporter Dana Bash, who asked him why the Senate wouldn’t consider passing a bill to fund the National Institutes of Health after reports that some young cancer patients were being kept out of clinical trials because of the shutdown.

“Why would we want to do that?” Reid said. “I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own."

Read more at The Hill's Blog Briefing Room.


State by state

ObamaCare Day One in Calif. and Va.

RI woman among first to enroll in ObamaCare exchange

Calif. law expands role of pharmacists [free registration required]


Reading list

Grover Norquist on Ted Cruz: 'He pushed House GOP into traffic and wandered away'

Providers get same rates from plans inside, outside exchanges [free registration required]

Seven ways the government shutdown will hit women hardest

Insurance may narrow race gap in access to surgery


What you might have missed on Healthwatch

Harkin: Americans are 'hungry' for ObamaCare

Casey asks GOP if ObamaCare fight is worth risking national security

McConnell: Health exchange launch was worse than a trip to the DMV

White House vows veto for piecemeal GOP spending measures

House GOP looking to pass health, military reserve funding bills

'ObamaCare' less popular than 'Affordable Care Act,' analysis finds

Dem strategist: ObamaCare launch was a 'smashing success'

NRCC hits 10 vulnerable Dems with radio ads on shutdown

White House turns to star power for ObamaCare boost

Republicans following Cruz's playbook as shutdown crisis unfolds

Rocky start for ObamaCare enrollment


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Please let us know:

Sam Baker: sbaker@thehill.com / 202-628-8351 / @sam_baker

Elise Viebeck: eviebeck@thehill.com / 202-628-8523 / @eliseviebeck