It took less time than what was estimated to complete scheduled maintenance of Healthcare.gov over the weekend. Midnight Saturday to noon on Sunday was blocked off for what the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or, CMS) called “extended maintenance.” Instead, Reuters reports CMS said the website was again functioning at 8:30 a.m. Sunday December 15.
While it was being worked on over the weekend, people were not able to enroll in coverage, or see if they qualify for subsidies. This affected not only the 36 states using the exchanges through Healthcare.gov, but the 14 state-based exchanges, and Washington D.C. as well. Sunday, December 15 was the original deadline for people to select a plan if they wanted their coverage to begin on January 1, 2014. That date was pushed back to December 23.
Scheduled maintenance for the website is hardly unusual. In late October, after acknowledging a bungled website roll out, President Obama brought in Jeff Zients to lead an IT team through repairing the website.
Operating under a December 1 deadline for repairs, the team identified hundreds of problems to fix. Throughout the month of November, Healthcare.gov was taken offline several times, mostly over weekends. CNN reported on “extended maintenance” taking place during a twelve-hour period from November 29 to 30.
As a result of the delays and bugs, a number of deadlines have been extended. In addition to moving the sign-up date from December 15 to the 23, a number of other groups now have extra time to secure insurance. For example, people covered by the Pre-existing Condition Insurance Plan can keep current coverage until January 31, 2014 if they do not already have a new plan.
“We are providing additional flexibility to consumers across the country to ensure they have access to coverage options that begin on January 1, 2014,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “The Department is committed to providing consumers with the information they need to pick the coverage option that works for them and their families.”
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