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U.S. health exchanges say federal data hub operating again

(Reuters) - A key link to federal data used by the websites that sell health insurance under the U.S. health reform law appeared to be working again after a data center failure blocked enrollment across the country on Sunday, two state-based exchanges said on Monday.

The crash of the data center, operated by Verizon Communication Inc's Terremark unit, affected not only the federal government's online exchange, HealthCare.gov, but also the sites run by 14 states and the District of Columbia, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Sunday.

It was the latest problem in the troubled Internet rollout of the health insurance exchanges set up by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which has President Barack Obama's administration scrambling to fix the technical issues that plague the system.

Representatives of the Connecticut-based and New York-based exchanges said on Monday that the federal data hub was working again. That hub is used by all of the states and the government to complete exchange applications.

Verizon and HHS, which oversees the exchanges, did not respond to requests for comment. Connecticut's site was the first to report the outage on Sunday.

The federal website, which sells insurance for the 36 states that chose not to operate their own Obamacare exchange, has been plagued by technology failures since it was launched on October 1. On Friday, the government said it would be operating smoothly by the end of November.

The outage that started early Sunday severed connections with the federal data services hub, which links the online health insurance marketplaces with numerous federal agencies and can verify people's identity, citizenship, income, and other information.

Without the hub, consumers are unable to apply online for coverage or determine their eligibility for federal subsidies to help pay for insurance premiums. The hub was built by a technology unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer and Sharon Begley; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

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