OVERNIGHT HEALTH: HealthCare.gov sees record traffic

Traffic on the federal government’s ObamaCare website reached a record high on Monday, with more than 1 million people logging on to HealthCare.gov on the final day to buy coverage effective Jan. 1.

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At least 2.5 million people have bought health insurance plans on the ObamaCare exchanges as of Friday -- a robust enrollment tally that does not include sign-ups from this week or an "extremely busy" weekend, according to Andy Slavitt, deputy administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

About 1 million of those plans were picked in just one week, according to the data, which includes 37 states using the federal marketplace.

The figures offer an important snapshot ahead of Monday, which was the last day to buy coverage for the beginning of the year.

Due to the surge in traffic, some users were diverted to the website’s "waiting rooms" for the first time, though Slavitt said the website "did not run into capacity constraints."

"We are able to handle even more volume in the months ahead," Slavitt said. Read more here.

Beating the target: ObamaCare signups are likely to surpass the administration’s goal of 9.1 million, beating the lowered target set by the administration at the start of the enrollment period. About 10.5 million people are expected to purchase health insurance by the end of 2015, according to a report by consulting and research firm Avalere Health.

The report, which uses federal estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services to predict state sign-ups, says enrollment could be as high as 11.5 million or as low as 9.5 million. Read more here

Blacks falling behind under O-Care: African-Americans are less likely to see benefits under ObamaCare compared to other racial groups, according to research released Tuesday.

While Latinos, American Indians and Alaska natives have seen "dramatic" increases in healthcare coverage over the last year, obtaining coverage has been tougher for black Americans, largely because they disproportionately live in states that have not expanded Medicaid, according to an extensive 65-page report by The Urban Institute, a nonprofit research group.

Most of the states that have not adopted a central ObamaCare provision that helps low-income people qualify for Medicaid have Republican legislatures or governors. More than half of all black individuals and families live in the 21 states that have not expanded Medicaid eligibility, according to the report. Read more here.

Insurers to loosen deadlines: The health insurance industry announced Tuesday that it will provide flexibility on payment deadlines for customers shopping for medical coverage on ObamaCare's exchanges. Health plans will give new and returning enrollees "additional time" to pay January premiums over the holidays while still ensuring their coverage is effective on Jan. 1, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) said.

The group also announced steps to ensure consumers switching carriers are refunded excess payments and do not face gaps in coverage. "Our community wants to do everything we can to make sure consumers have greater peace of mind about their health care coverage and to support them throughout the open enrollment process," said AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni. Read more here.


Wednesday's schedule:

The Bipartisan Policy Center will hold a roundtable discussion with national healthcare leaders on the data and health IT needs of new delivery systems and payment models. 


State by state:

How Haslam got to the 'Insure Tennessee' plan

In Arizona, some mental health providers spent heavily on administrative costs despite service cuts

Oregon told how to fix addiction treatment system, ignored advice

Gov. Herbert wants to tax e-cigarette sales in Utah, bring in $10M


What we're reading:

Britain: No need for US army to help in Sierra Leone Ebola fight

Workplace health records may not be as private as you think

Latino groups call for more research on Alzheimer's

Joan Rivers clinic plans big changes


What you might have missed:

CDC's worst-case scenario for Ebola unlikely to appear, study finds

FDA warns against 'keepsake' sonogram videos

Dem report: Justices could erase $65 billion in ObamaCare subsidies

 

Please send tips and comments to Sarah Ferris, sferris@thehill.com, and Elise Viebeck, eviebeck@thehill.com. Follow on Twitter: @thehill@sarahnferris@eliseviebeck