Senate Dems demand investigation into ObamaCare website shutdowns

Senate Dems demand investigation into ObamaCare website shutdowns

A group of Senate Democrats on Wednesday called for an investigation into the Trump administration’s decision to periodically shut down the federal ObamaCare exchange website in the middle of the next open enrollment period.

Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzSocial media users slam Ryan for tweet on .50 pay hike Live coverage: Trump delivers his first State of the Union Senate Dems call Trump's reported Census Bureau pick 'deeply unqualified' MORE (Hawaii), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGovernment watchdog finds safety gaps in assisted living homes David Crosby: Shared dislike for Trump could reunite Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young Dem senators tell Trump he doesn’t have ‘legal authority’ to launch preemptive strike on North Korea MORE (Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerUndiagnosed sleep apnea cause of two rail crashes: NTSB WATCH: Dems say Trump will look like he has something to hide if he avoids Muller interview Protecting the special counsel is an American duty MORE (N.J.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyGreen group backs Sens. Baldwin, Nelson for reelection Dems press Trump for 'Buy American' proposals in infrastructure plan Chuck Schumer’s deal with the devil MORE (Conn.) asked the Department of Health and Human Services's inspector general to investigate plans for hours-long maintenance shutdowns of the HealthCare.gov website.

“There has been no satisfactory explanation given for why these shutdowns are necessary, and they appear to be part of a pattern by the Trump administration to sabotage the Affordable Care Act,” the senators wrote in a letter to the inspector general's office.

Department officials said the website will be shut down for maintenance from midnight until noon almost every Sunday during the next ObamaCare open enrollment period, which lasts from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, as well as overnight on the first day of the enrollment period.

The senators said they are concerned the shutdowns will make it even more difficult to sign up for insurance during the enrollment period.

In a separate letter, the Democratic senators demanded answers from the administration about why the scheduled shutdowns were deemed necessary and how they will impact Americans trying to access HealthCare.gov.

A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said last week that the maintenance periods were planned ahead of time and were "no different" from previous years. 

“System downtime is planned for the lowest-traffic time periods on HealthCare.gov including Sunday evenings and overnight," the spokesperson said.

On Wednesday, Senate Democrats called on the CMS to extend open enrollment to Jan. 31.

“Extending the deadline on Healthcare.gov will ensure that consumers in states that utilize the federal platform will also have more time to navigate the marketplace and enroll in a plan that best suits their needs,” the senators wrote.