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 SchatzOvernight Energy: Warren bill would force companies to disclose climate impacts | Green group backs Gillum in Florida gov race | Feds to open refuge near former nuke site Warren wants companies to disclose more about climate change impacts Congress just failed our nation’s veterans when it comes to medical marijuana MORE (Hawaii), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDemocrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her More Massachusetts Voters Prefer Deval Patrick for President than Elizabeth Warren Trump's trade war — firing all cannons or closing the portholes? MORE (Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerEx-White House official revises statement to Mueller after Flynn guilty plea: report CNN editor: Booker's 'groping incident' 'different' from Kavanaugh allegation Poll: Most Massachusetts voters don't think Warren should run for president in 2020 MORE (N.J.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyWant to improve health care? Get Americans off of their couches Situation in Yemen should lead us to return to a constitutional foreign policy Overnight Defense: Biden honors McCain at Phoenix memorial service | US considers sending captured ISIS fighters to Gitmo and Iraq | Senators press Trump on ending Yemen civil war 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.