Days before launch, Obamacare website failed to handle even 500 users

Thu Nov 21, 2013 9:49pm EST
 
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By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON Nov 21 (Reuters) - In the last days before the botched Oct. 1 launch of President Barack Obama's healthcare website, the team in charge was seeing alarming results from performance tests, according to internal emails released by Republican lawmakers investigating the rollout.

HealthCare.gov was unable to consistently handle 500 users at once in the testing, and tests failed with 2,000 users over a three-day period, according to a series of emails between members of the information technology team at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS.

"I do not want a repeat of what happened near the end of December 2005 where Medicare.Gov had a meltdown," Henry Chao, the website's project manager at CMS, wrote in capital letters in an urgent message on Sept. 26 to his team and contractors.

Chao was referring to the disastrous launch of the Medicare Part D prescription drug program under President George W. Bush's administration. Technical woes prevented many seniors from initially gaining access to the website.

The emails, released by the Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee, are the latest to illustrate the depths of problems with the Obamacare website, which has frustrated millions of Americans with error messages and slow responses as they try to shop for health insurance.

The troubled rollout has been deeply embarrassing for Obama, who had promised up to the launch of the website that it would make shopping for plans as easy as buying televisions on Amazon.

It has also raised questions about the management of his signature healthcare reform program.

White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the "cherry-picked" emails did not reveal anything new.   Continued...