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Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi

Representing the 8th District of Illinois

Cummings and Krishnamoorthi Request Info. on Trump Administration’s Decision to Schedule Major Outages of HealthCare.gov During Open Enrollment

September 29, 2017
Press Release

Washington, DC — Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Health Care, Benefits, and Administrative Rules, sent a letter requesting documents and information relating to the decision by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to schedule outages of HealthCare.gov during the upcoming open enrollment season.

“The Department has had this entire year to conduct routine maintenance without any disruption to people seeking to purchase healthcare plans through HealthCare.gov during the open enrollment period.  In addition, this year’s open enrollment period was reduced from 90 days to 45 days. ... Previous open enrollment periods that lasted twice as long reportedly required fewer maintenance outages,” Cummings and Krishnamoorthi wrote.

The Trump Administration announced that it would conduct maintenance outages from midnight to noon Eastern Standard Time on all but one Sunday during the upcoming open enrollment period and that it would shut down HealthCare.gov on Wednesday, November 1, 2017, the first day of open enrollment.

The announcement of the scheduled outages follows reports that the Trump Administration has withdrawn funding for open enrollment advertising and outreach as well as for the ACA’s Navigator program.

After the House of Representatives failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in March, President Donald Trump argued that “the best thing we can do politically speaking is let Obamacare explode.”

“Unfortunately,” the members wrote, “in addition to undermining the ACA, the Trump Administration’s recent actions may harm many Americans who are seeking to obtain health insurance to protect themselves and their families.”

Cummings and Krishnamoorthi requested documents and communications to address the following questions:

(1)        What technical issues warrant shutting down HealthCare.gov during this year’s open enrollment period, and when were they identified?

(2)        How many plan selections were made per day during the 2015 and 2016 open enrollment periods?  What is average number of plan selections made on each day of the week?

(3)        How will the Department measure the effects of this year’s shorter open enrollment period, cuts to enrollment outreach funding, and scheduled outages on 2018 enrollment numbers?

(4)        What steps is the Department taking to ensure that people are fully informed of when these outages will occur?

(5)        When were you made aware of the days and times for the scheduled website downtime during this year’s open enrollment period?

(6)        How was the decision made to shut down the website on Sundays from midnight to noon? 

(7)        What alternatives to scheduled outages were considered?  What, if any, consideration was given to the website traffic during that period in other time zones?

Click here to read the full letter.