Obamacare Weekend: It begins with a Website Shutdown
for Maintenance (Security?) Fixes

It was supposed to be D-Day for President Obama’s health care overhaul. But the government took down its website for a very long maintenance fix

A crucial weekend for the troubled Website that is the backbone of President Obama's healthcare overhaul appears to be off to a shaky start, as the government took the site offline for an unusually long maintenance period that lasted into Saturday morning.

Just hours before the Obama administration's self-imposed deadline to get the insurance shopping website working for the "vast majority" of its users by Saturday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that it was taking down the website for an 11-hour period.

It was unclear whether the extended shutdown of the website - about seven hours longer than on typical day - represented a major setback to the Obama administration's high-stakes scramble to fix the portal, that it hopes eventually will enroll about 7 million uninsured and under-insured Americans under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

At the very least, the shutdown suggested that nine weeks after the website's fatal launch on October 1st 2013 prevented most applicants from enrolling in coverage and ignited one of the biggest crises of Obama's administration, U.S. officials are nervous over whether Americans will see enough progress in the website to be satisfied.

For the administration and its Democratic allies, the stakes are enormous.

The healthcare overhaul is Obama's signature domestic achievement, a program designed to extend coverage to millions of Americans and reduce healthcare costs! (a verry good Thing !! G.D.) To work, the program must enroll millions of young, healthy consumers whose participation in the new insurance exchanges is key to keeping costs in check.

After weeks of around-the-clock upgrades of software and hardware, Obama officials said they were balanced to successfully double its capacity by this weekend, to be able to handle 50.000 insurance shoppers at the same time.

However, if the website does not work for the "vast majority" of visitors this weekend as the administration has promised, uninsured Americans from 36 states could face problems getting coverage by an initial Dec. 23 deadline.

It also could cause a stir that (could) extend to the 2014 elections when control of the U.S. House of Representatives (now controlled by Republicans) and the Senate (now led by Democrats) will be up for grabs.

Obama's fellow Democrats who are up for 
re-election in Congress already have shown signs of taking distance  from the president and his Healthcare program. If the website does not show significant improvement soon, some Democrats - particularly the dozen U.S. senators who are from states led by conservative Republicans and who are up for re-election next year - might call for extending Obamacare's final March 31 enrollment deadline for 2014.

That would delay the fines that are mandated by the law for those who do not have insurance by that date, a scenario that insurers say would destabilize the market. It also would fuel Republicans' arguments that Obamacare, and its website, are fatally flawed and should be scrapped.

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