The Trump administration will conduct hours-long maintenance on the ObamaCare enrollment website during the sign-up period again this year, The Hill reported Tuesday.
> The administration drew criticism for a similar move last year from advocates who said the downtime would hinder efforts to sign people up for coverage, but the administration counters that maintenance downtime happens every year and is designed to occur during the slowest periods on the site.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said maintenance will take the website offline from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. each Sunday during the enrollment period, except for the final Sunday.
> Officials said that is the maximum possible downtime, and said last year the actual downtime was significantly less than what was scheduled, at 21.5 hours out of a scheduled 60.
> “Maintenance windows are regularly scheduled on healthcare.gov every year during Open Enrollment,” a CMS spokesperson said.
> “Regular scheduled maintenance will continue to be planned for the lowest-traffic time periods on healthcare.gov, including Sunday mornings,” the spokesperson added. “Last year, healthcare.gov was down for significantly less than the full amount of time initially authorized.”
CMS also said there were 53.5 hours of Sunday morning downtime in 2016, during the last year of the Obama administration; however, President Trump has cut the open enrollment period in half, from 90 days to just 45.
> "CMS is clearly at pains to provide assurances of its benign intent in this maintenance schedule," said Eliot Fishman, senior director of health policy at the liberal health-care advocacy group Families USA. "But with the President continuing to regularly brag about gutting the ACA and with the Administration refusing to defend the law in court, there is reason to be concerned about a schedule that takes the federal marketplace down for long stretches over weekends during holiday season. We’ll be watching this closely."