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Official: may not be fully fixed by end of the month


Issues afflicting the federal health insurance website makes it unlikely the site will work fully at November’s end as the White House vowed, an official said. balks when more than 20,000-to-30,000 people try to use it as the same time, which is about half of its intended capacity, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The official said CGI Federal, the main contractor that built the site, succeeded in repairing only about six in 10 defects it has addressed so far.

Government workers and technical contractors working to repair the website — which launched Oct. 1 to universal criticism over a variety of issues — said the only way for a large numbers of Americans to enroll in the healthcare plans anytime soon is to use some other enrollment method.

Julie Bataille, director of communications at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services, said work is going on "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."

Debate over how to respond to Americans angered over losing their insurance picked up in Congress as well. The House plans to vote this week on a bill introduced by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), R-Mich., that would extend this year’s insurance plans for a year.

In the Senate, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), D-Calif., said she was co-sponsoring a bill with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., that would require insurers to offer 2013 plans on the individual market indefinitely.

The House Democratic leadership team was united in its opposition to the Upton bill, even if defections among the rank and file were likely, The Hill reported.

During a briefing Tuesday, House Minority Whip Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), D-Md., said he was "not closed" to possibly voting for Upton’s bill, depending on the language in the final draft. Later, Hoyer’s office said he would oppose the bill.

"The Upton legislation would create a new insurance market where people with pre-existing conditions would be discriminated against and women would pay more," a House Democratic aide told The Hill. "The bill would increase premiums and undermine the health reform law. While we have not seen the final text, the leadership will oppose this legislation as it is the 46th attempt to repeal or undermine the Affordable Care Act."

White House spokesman Jay Carney also indicated Tuesday President Obama opposed the bill, The Hill said.

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