President Donald Trump and his Republican allies continue their relentless effort to sabotage the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). In their latest move, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning to shut down the federal ObamaCare exchange website during the next open enrollment period, CNN reports.
Trump administration 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.
A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said the maintenance periods were planned ahead of time but was unable to provide information as of the reason for the “maintenance” and why it would take so long.
“Maintenance outages are regularly scheduled on HealthCare.gov every year. System downtime is planned for 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 shutdowns 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 the network.
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.
After the cuts were announced health experts said they would likely see “lower enrollment in the ObamaCare exchanges” this year. And that’s exactly what the Trump administration is trying to accomplish.