Oct. 1 - U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare initiative which includes online enrollment for health insurances kicks off with some glitches, heavy web traffic. Deborah Gembara reports.
The most ambitious U.S. social program in half a century kicked off --- on the internet. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Obama saying: " Today Americans who have been forced to go without insurance can now visit healthcare.gov and enroll in affordable new plans that offer quality coverage. That starts today." If the President sounded like a salesman, it wasn't accidental. SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying: "Just visit healthcare.gov, and there, you can compare insurance plans side-by-side the same way you'd shop for a plane ticket on Kayak or a TV on Amazon. You enter some basic information, you'll be presented with a list of quality, affordable plans that are available in your area with clear descriptions of what each plan covers and what it will cost." Americans like Jeffrey Cambell say its a day they've been waiting for. SOUNDBITE: Jeffrey Cambell saying: This really means a lot to me to be able to sign up for healthcare that I have been denied in the past due to a pre-existing condition.. Cambell has high blood pressure --- and is one of millions of Americans who found themselves uninsurable for conditions that range from allergies to cancer. Like many internet launches, day one was not without its glitches SOUNDBITE: U.S. President Barack Obama saying: "We found out that there have been times this morning where the site's been running more slowly than it normally will. The reason is because more than one million people visited healthcare.gov before 7:00 in the morning. To put that in context, there were five times more users in the marketplace this morning than have ever been on medicare.gov at one time. That gives you a sense of how important this is to millions of Americans around the country, and that's a good thing. We're going to be speeding things up in the next few hours to handle all of this demand that exceeds anything that we had expected." He added that they are working to speed up the site to handle the demand. Americans who sign up by the December 15th -- will be insured beginning on the first of the year. The plan's roll out is not sitting well with Republicans. SOUNDBITE: Republican Senator Ted Cruz saying: "Obamacare is a disaster, a trainwreck, a nightmare. My view is we should repeal it in its entirety." The program debuts in the shadow of one of the most contentious debates on Capitol Hill --- Republicans have made defunding "obamacare" a condition of moving beyond a budget impasse that has led to the first government shutdown in over 17 years.