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Vermont’s Sending Thousands Of Obamacare Customers To Shutdown Website To Pay

Vermont shut down its flailing Obamacare website last month to deal with security issues, but the state continued sending out emails directing thousands of customers to the nonfunctional exchange to make their payments anyway.

Twenty percent of Vermont’s Obamacare enrollees, 6,500 people, were informed they needed to make their premium payments online at the state-run exchange’s website, VermontHealthConnect.gov, according to VT Digger.

But late last month, the Obama administration forced Vermont to take its website offline while it fixed ongoing security flaws. (RELATED: Vermont Shut Down Obamacare Website For Emergency Repairs)

The administration worried that the Vermont exchange’s connection to the Federal Services Data Hub, a system that shares Obamacare customers’ personal information across many federal agencies and state exchanges, could put information in danger. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services forced Vermont to disconnect from the data hub in mid-September, according to VT Digger.

Vermont could have left its own web portal online and allowed customers to use limited functions, but it chose to shut down the entire site. State officials are trying to finish the repairs before the next open enrollment period begins Nov. 15. It’s also preparing to begin paper enrollment if the security flaws aren’t fixed in time.

The state meant to cancel the automated emails after the website went offline, but failed to do so. When customers were directed to the website, the home-page originally told users to call the state’s Obamacare call center. Since the problem arose, however, they’ve updated the landing page to instruct customers to pay by mail or phone.

“It’s extremely frustrating to have something so simple that should be within our control cause additional confusion for people,” Lawrence Miller, the state’s top health care official, said.

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