HealthCare.gov will go down for 12 hours most Sundays during enrollment, CMS says

Editor's note: This story was updated on Sept. 26, 2017.

The Trump administration last week said it will take HealthCare.gov offline for scheduled maintenance for about 12 hours on most Sundays during the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) upcoming open enrollment period.

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The open enrollment period for the 2018 coverage year will run from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15—about half the length of previous open enrollment periods. The administration has announced plans to roll back spending on advertising and groups that help enroll consumers in exchange plans.

Scheduled outages

CMS said the scheduled outages, which will affect the more than 30 states that use Healthcare.gov for exchange plan enrollment, will occur from 12 a.m. to 12 p.m. ET on every Sunday during the open enrollment period, with the exception of Dec. 10. According to Modern Healthcare, the website also will be unavailable overnight on Wednesday, Nov. 1—the first day of open enrollment for the 2018 coverage year. 

CMS in a statement said, "Maintenance outages are regularly scheduled on HealthCare.gov every year during open enrollment," adding, "This year is no different." A CMS spokesperson said the agency released the schedule in advance this year.

ACA advocates raise concerns

Some ACA advocates raised concerns that the outages could hamper enrollment

Jason Stevenson—spokesperson for the Utah Health Policy Project, an ACA navigator group—said 10 p.m. Mountain Time, which would fall during the scheduled outages, is a common time for people to enroll online. "I could see this really impacting the ability of people to complete an application sign-up in a single sitting, which is so important," he said. "Health insurance is complicated, and in the past couple of years we had an administration that made it easier to sign up, but that has really changed in the past six months, with more hurdles not only for consumers but for those whose job it is to help them."

Brad Woodhouse, campaign director for Protect Our Care, characterized the outages as another GOP attack on the ACA. He said, "It's clear that even if Republicans continue to fail to repeal the [ACA], that the Trump administration will go to any lengths to sabotage the law" (Hackman, Wall Street Journal, 9/23; Livingston, Modern Healthcare, 9/22; Galewitz, Kaiser Health News, 9/22).

Where do the states stand on Medicaid expansion?

The Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) allowed states to opt of the law's Medicaid expansion, leaving each state's decision to participate in the hands of the nation's governors and state leaders.

The Daily Briefing editorial teams have been tracking where each state stands on the issue since the ruling, combing through lawmakers' statements, press releases, and media coverage. In this latest iteration of our Medicaid map, we've determined each state's position based on legislative or executive actions to expand coverage to low-income residents using ACA funding.

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