Washington – For the second time since Sunday morning, the federal system that verifies identities and other personal information about Americans shopping for insurance on exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act has crashed.
In a statement, Access Health CT, said it was informed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that the federal data services hub, which confirms applicant information for all health care exchanges, is experiencing an outage. The statement did not say when CMS expected the data hub to be functional again although Verizon, which operates the data hub, said it hoped to fix it overnight.
When the hub went down Sunday, it took about 24 hours to fix.
The Access Health CT release said that during the outage, “customers will not be able to access Remote Identity Proofing, Social Security Administration or Advanced Premium Tax Credits also referred to as subsidies. As a result, consumers will not be able to complete the sign up process for Medicaid or Advanced Premium Tax Credit determinations.”
While consumers can’t complete applications -- or determine whether they qualify for federal subsidies to buy insurance — they “can continue to create accounts as well as shop anonymously for pricing comparisons,“ the Connecticut exchange’s statement said.
Access Health CT had planned to have a backup system in place so visitors to the site could continue to apply for insurance coverage if the data hub faltered, but its “plan B,” has technical problems, too.
CMS directed a request for more information to Verizon, which did not respond.
Instead, Verizon released a statement that said it was “undertaking infrastructure maintenance, which should be completed overnight.”
“Since HHS asked us to provide additional compute and storage capacity, our engineers have worked 24/7 to trouble-shoot issues with the site,” the statement said.
The interruption in service comes as the Connecticut health exchange planned to issue an update of its operations on Wednesday.
It also comes on the eve of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' testimony before the Republican-controlled House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday.
Besides having to answer questions about the severe technical problems plaguing healthcare.gov, Sebelius is likely to also have to explain the repeated problems with the data hub, which HHS insisted was glitch-free before Sunday’s shutdown.
She is also likely to be grilled about a NBC report that determined many Americans are losing their health insurance coverage as the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to stop selling plans that fail to offer, at a minimum, a certain amount of coverage and benefits, including maternity and mental health care.