- The Washington Times - Monday, March 31, 2014

Some users of the main Obamacare portal, HealthCare.gov, encountered error messages on the website Monday morning — the last day to sign up for policies before the health care law begins to penalize Americans for lacking health insurance.

The morning began with a notice that the “system isn’t available at the moment.”

Since then, the site either has displayed a message about capacity or let visitors through to the application form.

“HealthCare.gov has a lot of visitors right now! We need you to wait here, so we can make sure there’s room for you to have a good experience on our site,” one message said.

The error notices were reminiscent of the roadblocks that hindered HealthCare.gov’s launch in October, when too many simultaneous users caused a bottleneck at the front-end of the system. Residents of 36 states rely on the site.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is implementing the law, said late Sunday that 2 million people visited the federal portal over the weekend and that it had been performing well at the time, although its monitoring team discovered an unspecified software bug that had to be patched early Monday

“HealthCare.gov marketplace application and enrollment system is coming online now,” CMS spokesman Aaron Albright said Monday. “The tech team extended regular maintenance window this morning and is bringing the system online gradually to best meet consumer demand.”

But the health care law’s Republican foes jumped on the errors.

“Healthcare.gov is down again. Sorry taxpayers, I guess the real deadline was yesterday,” Rep. Phil Gingrey, Georgia Republican, tweeted.

The Obama administration is urging Americans to sign up before midnight Monday, although it will allow people who “get in line” to finish up their enrollments in April.

People who lack insurance for more than three consecutive months in 2014 face a tax penalty under the law’s “individual mandate.”

In its first year the fine, which will be extracted from potential tax refunds in spring 2015, is the greater of $95 or 1 percent of household income above filing threshold.

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