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Promised repairs on federal health care website to be tested

| Saturday, Nov. 30, 2013, 8:27 p.m.

The rollout of President Obama's health care law entered a critical phase on Saturday, the deadline for substantially fixing the program's troubled enrollment website, as the administration scrambled to address the most obvious glitches.

The White House, under pressure by both Republican opponents and some members of Obama's Democratic Party, promised five weeks ago that by Nov. 30 it would repair HealthCare.gov. The site was designed to help people sign up for medical coverage but has been plagued by errors, outages and slow speeds since its Oct. 1 start.

Basic account creation and log-in functions appeared to work smoothly on Saturday, but groups helping the sign-up effort described other errors in the process.

The site's ability to handle target traffic loads of 50,000 users or more at the same time will be tested in the coming days. A website shutdown to accommodate fixes was set for early Sunday.

Health insurance companies, whose plans in 36 states are featured on HealthCare.gov, said significant problems remain, particularly in the “back end” where enrollment is confirmed and payment is made.

“Until the enrollment process is working from end-to-end, many consumers will not be able to enroll in coverage,” said Karen Ignagni, president of America's Health Insurance Plans, a lobby group.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency responsible for the website, said it was performing well on Saturday “despite heavier than usual weekend traffic,” although it did not release any data.

Jeffrey Zients, the Obama aide tasked with leading the rescue mission, was to brief reporters on the site's progress at 9 a.m. Sunday.

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