The Obamacare website was given the "all clear" despite failing during tests with just a few hundred people in the days before its launch Oct. 1.
The test pool of 200 to 300 consisted of insurance company representatives and government employees from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, according to CBS News.
The CMS workers participated in the tests from their own computers within the agency using fake information, CBS noted, citing unidentified sources.
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The tests began in late September, just days before the HealthCare.gov website was scheduled to open for business. But when the employees started to create applications to begin the enrollment process, they ran into the same problem that many Americans found on Oct. 1 — the site "ground to a stop," a source told CBS.
"It froze. It couldn't go forward. It crashed."
The tests were resumed a few days later, and the site locked up again. The employees were never able to browse plans or get cost estimates.
"It was unequivocally clear from testing ... this wasn't ready," the source told CBS.
The picture painted by the CBS report was far different from the one described by CMS Director Marilyn Tavenner, the chief administration official responsible for overseeing implementation of the new healthcare law. Tavenner testified in sworn testimony on Tuesday that "we were comfortable" with the site's performance during the testing.
"The volume issue and the creation of account issues was not anticipated and obviously took us by surprise and did not show up in testing," she said, referring to the problems that many Americans had almost from the start in trying to access the website.
Tavenner, however, noted that her agency "knew all along there would be, as with any new website, some individual glitches we would have to work out," CNN reported.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius also testified Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee that she thought the crash-prone website was ready to launch on Oct. 1. She apologized to the American people for the botched launch and told the committee that if they were looking for someone to blame for the website "debacle," she should be held responsible.
She insisted, however, the site issues would be corrected and that uninsured Americans would be able to apply online for health insurance coverage under Obamacare by the end of November.
Vice President Joe Biden also made a similar pledge Wednesday when he, too, apologized for the site's problems.
"We assumed that it was up and ready to run," Biden said, reports CNN
. "But the good news is, although it's not — and we apologize for that — we are confident by the end of November it'll be, and there'll still be plenty of time for people to register and get online."
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