The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is has plans for hours-long maintenance shutdowns of the federal ObamaCare exchange in the next open enrollment period, CNN reports.
HHS officials said the website shall be shut down for maintenance for 12 hours from midnight to noon nearly every Sunday of the next ObamaCare enrollment period, which spans from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, as well as overnight on the initial day of the enrollment period. One Sunday, Dec. 10, will not see a shutdown.
A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said that 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 explained. “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 assists people signing up for coverage on the exchanges, informed CNN that 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, said to CNN.
Those navigator groups had their funding decreased by 41 percent in a round of HHS funding cuts last month. Navigators will now get funding proportionally to how they did with hitting their enrollment targets during the last year.
The budget for ObamaCare advertising and outreach was also lowered from $100 million last year to $10 million this year.
The navigators groups said after the cuts were announced they would probably see lower enrollment in the ObamaCare exchanges this year.