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 SchatzCensus workers prepare to go door-knocking in pandemic Data shows seven Senate Democrats have majority non-white staffs Overnight Defense: Lawmakers demand answers on reported Russian bounties for US troops deaths in Afghanistan | Defense bill amendments target Germany withdrawal, Pentagon program giving weapons to police MORE (Hawaii), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenProgressive Mondaire Jones wins NY primary to replace Nita Lowey Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel Biden campaign announces second round of staff hires in Arizona MORE (Mass.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: California backtracks on reopening as cases soar nationwide; SoapBox CEO David Simnick says nimble firms can work around supply chain chokepoints to access supplies for sanitizers and hygienic materials In politics, as in baseball, it ain't over till it's over Democrats blast Trump for commuting Roger Stone: 'The most corrupt president in history' MORE (N.J.) and Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyConnecticut senators call for Subway to ban open carry of firearms Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate Gridlock mires chances of police reform deal 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.