The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning hours-long maintenance shutdowns of the federal ObamaCare exchange during the next open enrollment period, CNN reports.
HHS officials said the website will be shut down for maintenance for 12 hours from midnight to noon almost every Sunday of the next ObamaCare enrollment period, which lasts from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, as well as overnight on the first day of the enrollment period.
One Sunday, Dec. 10, won’t see a shutdown.
A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said the maintenance periods were planned ahead of time.
“Maintenance outages are regularly scheduled on HealthCare.gov every year during open enrollment. This year is no different,” the spokesperson said. “The maintenance schedule was provided in advance this year in order to accommodate requests from certified application assisters.
“System downtime is planned for the lowest-traffic time periods on HealthCare.gov including Sunday evenings and overnight.”
A spokesperson for an ObamaCare navigator group, which helps people sign up for coverage on the exchanges, told CNN the shut downs could impact sign-ups.
“I could see this really impacting the ability of people to complete an application sign-up in a single sitting, which is so important,” Jason Stevenson, of the Utah Health Policy project, told CNN.
Those navigator groups had their funding slashed by 41 percent in a round of HHS funding cuts last month. Navigators will now receive funding proportionally to how they fared in hitting their enrollment targets during the previous year.
The budget for ObamaCare advertising and outreach was also slashed from $100 million last year to $10 million this year.
Navigators groups said after the cuts were announced they would likely see lower enrollment in the ObamaCare exchanges this year.
BY BRANDON CARTER – 09/22/17 07:51 PM EDT