Dems seek answers on HealthCare.gov tech issues as enrollment lags

Affordable Care Act
A group of Senate and House lawmakers are demanding the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to answer questions about Healthcare.gov technical issues. (Getty/zimmytws)

A group of House and Senate Democrats are demanding answers from the Trump administration on technical problems that have contributed to a slow start for sign-ups.

A letter from the lawmakers (PDF) called for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to answer a series of questions on the technical problems, including how many people could have been impacted and what actions the agency has taken to address the problem.

“We are seeking assurances that these errors have been resolved so that consumers do not continue to encounter problems through the rest of the Open Enrollment period,” according to the letter.

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The problems occurred on the first day of open enrollment for the 2020 coverage year as it prevented some people from choosing a plan on the website, which is used by residents in 38 states to buy Affordable Care Act plans.

The Obamacare advocacy group Get America Covered said at the start of open enrollment Nov. 1 that it received multiple reporters from sign-up assisters and social media of HealthCare.gov experiencing widespread problems.

Get Covered America estimates that as many as 100,000 fewer people could have signed up for coverage on the first day.

CMS said that the issues were corrected and that the website was fully operational for the first weekend of open enrollment.

But the lawmakers said “fewer people traditionally use Healthcare.gov over the weekend. In addition, if the volume of traffic to the site prompted the technical issues, we are concerned they could recur later in the Open Enrollment period.”

The letter was led by Sens. Patty Murray, D-Washington, and Ron Wyden, D-Washington, along with Reps. Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey.; Richard Neal, D-Massachusetts; and Robert "Bobby" Scott, D-Virginia.

CMS said that the reported technical issues on the first day of open enrollment were addressed that day. 

"Normal operations continued throughout that weekend and throughout the first two weeks of open enrollment," the agency said. 

As of the third week of signups on HealthCare.gov, 1.6 million people have chosen a plan. Open enrollment ends on Dec. 15.

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