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Turned back again on federal health care website

By   /   October 28, 2013  /   1 Comment

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ANOTHER GLITCH: The federal website for people to sign up for individual policies under the Affordable Care Act was shut down Sunday and Monday due to a connection problem.

By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog

SANTA FE – Eight attempts, eight incompletions.

That’s not a statistical line for a struggling quarterback but rather the number of times New Mexico Watchdog has tried without success to log onto healthcare.gov since the Affordable Care Act was rolled out Oct. 1.

Sunday night and Monday morning, NM Watchdog tried to compare coverage options on the Obamacare website. In recent attempts, NM Watchdog was able to create an account but couldn’t get to the website’s page specifying details on individual coverage.

But Sunday and as of 9 a.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Monday, we couldn’t even get past the first page without seeing this:

healthcare.gov shut down 10-28

What happened?

It turns out the site — after countless glitches for nearly a month — ran into another breakdown.

A crucial data center for the site went down Sunday and shut down the website for all 50 states. The site was still inoperable Monday, and blame was attributed to a connection issue at the data center operated by Verizon’s Terremark.

U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke with Verizon’s chief executive officer Sunday afternoon. “They committed to fixing the problem as soon as possible,” Sebelius spokeswoman Joanne Peters said.

“Our engineers have been working with HHS and other technology companies to identify and address the root cause of the issue,” Verizon spokesman Jeff Nelson said, adding that the problem would be fixed “as soon as possible.”

New Mexico is one of 36 states in which people looking for individual coverage are directed to healthcare.gov.

Small businesses and their employees seeking coverage can visit the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange, bewellnm.com, for coverage options and to enroll. Few problems have been reported on the state exchange; as of Oct. 23, 824, small businesses filed applications on the site.

But the national site has been plagued with glitches. Friday, both of New Mexico’s U.S. senators, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, joined eight Senate Democrats in sending a letter to Sebelius calling for a delay in the end date for “the individual mandate.”

The current deadline for open enrollment is March 31.

“These technical glitches delay thousands of New Mexicans from enrolling in affordable health care coverage, which is unacceptable,” Heinrich said in a statement Friday.

“Individuals should not be penalized for lack of coverage if they are unable to purchase health insurance due to technical problems,” the letter from the 10 Democrats said. Sebelius has not responded to the letter and is scheduled to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Wednesday.

If you’re trying to log on to the www.healthcare.gov site and would like to share your story, let us know.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at rnikolewski@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

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Rob Nikolewski is an investigative reporter for Watchdog.org based in Santa Fe, N.M. Contact him at rnikolewski@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @NMWatchdog.

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