Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 3 others ask OIG to probe scheduled maintenance


Four senators, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Booker, D-N.J., sent a letter to HHS' Office of Inspector General Sept. 27 asking the agency to investigate the scheduled down times for

The Trump administration announced Sept. 22 the ACA exchange signup website will undergo a scheduled maintenance outage from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. every Sunday between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, save for Dec. 10. HHS officials also said would be shut down overnight Nov. 1 — the first day of the upcoming open enrollment period.

In their letter to OIG, the senators wrote 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 ACA."

The senators wrote the outages will create a "time squeeze" on consumers seeking to buy federal health insurance, particularly since the Trump administration also revealed plans to cut the enrollment period by half — from a period of three months to 90 days — in addition to decreasing the government's ACA advertising budget by 90 percent and President Trump's own "refusal to commit to pay ACA cost-sharing subsidies for insurers," according to the senators. Robust enrollment, they suggest, is necessary to maintain the stability of the ACA exchanges.

Because of the administration's actions, the senators argue OIG should investigate the scheduled outages, including whether the administration's reasons for the outages comply with all applicable federal regulations, policies and procedures. The senators ask OIG to include its findings in the agency's assessment of federal marketplace enrollment systems, which OIG planned to review as part of its work plan announced earlier this month.

"An assessment of the [HHS'] management of open enrollment will be critical to ensuring that the Trump administration is upholding the law, and that taxpayer dollars are used effectively and rationally to boost sign-ups in the marketplace," the senators wrote.

To read the senators' full letter, click here.


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