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 SchatzDem senator: 'Stop pretending' law banning separation of migrant families is hard to pass Hillicon Valley: Judge approves AT&T-Time Warner deal in blow to DOJ | Dems renew push to secure state voting systems | Seattle reverses course on tax after Amazon backlash | Trump, senators headed for cyber clash | More Tesla layoffs Dems question FCC's claim of cyberattack during net neutrality comment period MORE (Hawaii), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenElection Countdown: Family separation policy may haunt GOP in November | Why Republican candidates are bracing for surprises | House Dems rake in record May haul | 'Dumpster fire' ad goes viral The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — GOP lawmakers race to find an immigration fix Dem presidential hopefuls seize on Trump border policy MORE (Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDem presidential hopefuls seize on Trump border policy To strengthen our democracy, we need to remove obstacles that keep students from voting Members of Congress demand new federal gender pay audit MORE (N.J.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyOvernight Health Care — Presented by the Association of American Medical Colleges — Governors criticize Trump move on pre-existing conditions Bipartisan group of senators asks FDA to examine drug shortages Trump faces Father’s Day pleas to end separations of migrant families 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.

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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.