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Obamacare fix-it czar says website repair on track

Jeffrey Zients, the management expert and former top White House budget aide tapped by President Obama to help fix the federal Obamacare website, said Friday his repair team is still on track to have the online portal working smoothly for the "vast majority of users" by the end of this month.

Mr. Zients said a pair of outages to HealthCare.gov's network, hosted by Verizon Terremark, set the IT experts back at times.

"This was a week in which we made progress and also ran into some roadblocks that slowed us down," he told reporters on a conference call hosted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The markets, known as exchanges, are run by individual states or by the federal government through HealthCare.gov, which channels requests from the 36 states that declined to set up their own exchanges.

The federal website has been plagued by problems that inhibit actual enrollment — picking a plan and paying for it — so the Obama administration says it only can announce that at least 700,000 people have applied for coverage.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, California Republican, released internal "war-room meeting notes" late Tuesday that suggest only six people enrolled through the federal portal on Oct. 1 — the first day it was available. That number rose to 248 enrollments after the second day of activity.

CMS spokeswoman Julie Bataille said Mr. Issa's numbers were notes from meetings among federal employees — not official records — and that she has "no further reflections on them."

She said the federal agency would release enrollment figures by mid-November, or "when we are confident in the accuracy of that data," including figures that are gathered from state-run exchanges.

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