Oops…U.S. Government lets Medicaid.com expire, now in private hands

Domain expired in January and wasn’t renewed despite plenty of warning.

The official site for Medicaid, the U.S. health program for lower income families and individuals, is Medicaid.gov.

But you can bet many people looking for information about the program type in Medicaid.com instead of .gov. Up until January 29th, the U.S. government helpfully forwarded Medicaid.com to Medicaid.gov…

Then it let the domain expire.

Last month Tennessee company Medx Publishing Inc, which also owns the domain name Medicare.com, acquired the domain name.

Between January 29th and March 22, the approximate date when Medx became owner, the government had plenty of warning to renew the domain, thanks to domain investor Josh Pelissero.

Pelissero contacted the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the entity that manages the programs a the federal level, and inquired if the domain was for sale since it hadn’t been renewed yet.

Sorry, he was told. The feds don’t sell domains.

Pelissero persisted, but was repeatedly told ‘no’.

“You realize,” he informed them, “that if you just let it expire then someone else will register the domain and you won’t get any money.”

Finally he got word that the domain would be renewed.

Except it never was.

On or shortly before March 22, the domain was transferred to Medx. The domain doesn’t appear to have been auctioned on NameJet.

Medx Publishing Inc. confirmed to Domain Name Wire that it had acquired the domain name and was in the process of figuring out its plans for the domain. The company’s Medicare.com domain has a lead gen form for health coverage, general Medicare information, and ads.

Pelissero has since heard from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that the renewal didn’t occur due to what was essentially a bureaucratic delay.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has not responded to an emailed request from Domain Name Wire.


  1. Aaron Strong says

    Wow…How did they ultimately get the domain? If it expired and never went to auction how do I get in on these deals?

  2. says

    On 3/17 the whois shows “Pending Renewal or Deletion” and the domain is with Network Solutions.

    Then on 3/22 the name is now owned by “Medx Publishing Inc” and with Register.com.

    It certainly looks like the normal auction process was avoided here.

    I would love to know what went on here. Did Network Solutions just outright sell an expired domain outside the auction process? It sure looks that way. This is going down a slippery slope if that is the case.

    Network Solutions is already doing other shady things on NJ like setting “minimum bids” on higher quality domains that are expired. They are not letting the fair market decide, they are deciding the minimum price they will accept to sell a domain that has expired.


  3. says

    The tiered system for expired or even, sometimes, expiring domain names, means that the domain business is nothing short of mob business. How can some people be allowed to take domains at will, both expired, and expiring domain names? That is why, as a matter of principle, I am against the drop catching services, and higher ups. It makes a mockery out of domaining.

  4. Adam says

    Now that NSI is owned by Web.com seem to be just doing what Register.com (another web.com company) have done in the past and continue to do, which is to take ownership of domains, monetize them and/or sell them privately in bulk or through namejet/snap. I think they are discovering there are better ways than namejet/snap

    BTW , There is no rule saying they have to send them to namejet Brad. There is however a rule in the RAA for registrars that says that if they renew a domain name (Which is the case here) and their customer did not authorize this renewal that there has to be extenuating circumstances. Making a buck doesn’t qualify for the extenuating circumstances

    Here’s some of the RAA that talks about the requirements that registrars like Tucows, NSI, Register.com and Enom.com all are supposed to be following . http://www.icann.org/en/resources/registrars/accreditation/eddp

    3.7.5 At the conclusion of the registration period, failure by or on behalf of the Registered Name Holder to consent that the registration be renewed within the time specified in a second notice or reminder shall, in the absence of extenuating circumstances, result in cancellation of the registration by the end of the auto-renew grace period (although Registrar may choose to cancel the name earlier).

  5. Nic says

    @Brad Mugford

    “This is going down a slippery slope if that is the case.”


    The registrar/registrant terms allow the registrar to sell the domain past expiry; whether they do it at namejet or directly is a matter for them.

  6. says

    And let’s not forget the article’s tidbit that the domain name expired on January 29, also based on its expiration date in WHOIS. Last I checked, NetSol gives up to 35 days for its owner to renew the domain name before it’s either auctioned or deleted for non-payment.

    Given that the creation date hasn’t changed, plus the length of time from its expiration to today, most likely the domain name was eventually auctioned off through NameJet. If anyone can authoritatively post some material proof that some shenanigan occurred, though, that maybe helps much better than speculating.

  7. Adam says

    The RAA which is the contract between ICANN and the registrar, which is designed to protect registrants does not allow this. . . in fact the contract prohibits a registrar from renewing their clients’ domains.

    Interestingly, the contract does not say anything about the RGP period . . . like how long it is so registrars make up their own rules. So some names go to RGP and the client can renew them and sometimes the registrar puts them in auction during an RGP that last conveniently as long as the auction, but the TOS at the registrar usually says “we reserve the right to create whatever RGP period we want”.

    ICANN has no firm policy on RGP length (as far as I can tell) and the registrars are aware and don’t give a shit about giving clients any time to renew names.

    The contract also specifies that the registrar is responsible for notifying the customer just exactly how many days they have left to renew the domain. Most registrars named above do not give any countdowns for their RGP periods, because they frankly make it up as they go.

    The offending registrars renew domains without permission and effectively break the RAA contract period.

  8. Josh says

    Adam is correct, it is at the rar’s discretion.

    Here is another tidbit I am privy to. While it certainly wasn’t “illegal” in terms of when they did it (ending grace period), how (see what Adam pointed out above/renewing vs deleting) can be questioned as mentioned above.
    The federal government agency involved did contact Networks Solutions and did inform them of their intent to renew the name, a note was even placed on the account. We now know that in approx. 10 business days from that call the name was sold.
    Again when they decided to end that grace period was at their discretion but not deleting it and renewing it was a violation based on Adam’s example. What actually bothers me more about this is the ethical side of things. Network Solutions at it’s discretion, knowing a renewal was desired, negotiated and sold the name any ways. More ethical and now perhaps a violation?

    Did anyone see this name go into a drop auction, anyone?

  9. says


    ICANN specifies both the auto-renew grace period (for expired names) and the redemption grace period:



    3.7.5 At the conclusion of the registration period, failure by or on behalf of the Registered Name Holder to consent that the registration be renewed within the time specified in a second notice or reminder shall, in the absence of extenuating circumstances, result in cancellation of the registration by the end of the auto-renew grace period (although Registrar may choose to cancel the name earlier). In the absence of extenuating circumstances (as defined in Section above), a domain name must be deleted within 45 days of either the registrar or the registrant terminating a registration agreement.

    What the RAA currently doesn’t require is, say, the registrar: a) giving the registrants the full 45-day grace period to renew, and/or b) not auctioning off an expired domain name within those 45 days. That and then some, depending how one maybe feels about it.

    Personally, the only advantage of auctioning off an expired domain name is to cut down the waiting time for the buyer. Not unless anyone fancies waiting the full 35 (0 expired + 30 day RGP + 5 day Pending Delete) to 80 days (45 day expired + 30 day RGP + 5 day Pending Delete) period.

  10. Adam says

    Dave . I’ve read the RAA contract . Exactly the contract does not specify how long a registrar has to keep a name in RGP but it also does not define Auto Renew Grace Period either. The definition of specified is to “Identify clearly and definitely”. 0-45 days is not specific.
    Most registrars do not abide by any specific time period and therein lies the problem. They can then make things up as they go and believe me they do.

    The RAA contract also specifies that they can not renew domains without owner consent. In order for them to keep these names at their registrar they have to renew the domains. The section you quoted, 3.7.5, says a domain must be deleted in that time from and can not be renewed without extenuating circumstances.

    Please tell me what circumstances these registrars are renewing domains under, other than for profiting on the sale of the name to another registrant ?

    The registrars are supposed to document all reasons for these renewals. . . I wonder what purpose that rule was created. The registrars are abusing the RGP loophole and also completely ignoring the rules of their RAA in renewing names without client approval. Why not ? There’s gold in those domains

  11. Bob says

    It is possible they decided not to spend the money on the renewal. I’ve done that for dot coms my agency reg’ed back in the day and realized over time they aren’t worth keeping around.

    But more likely is because OMB now requires agencies to report on all domains (dot gov and dot com) and justify the ownership. It’s a real pain and not worth the taxpayer’s dollars for a bureaucrat’s salary. We dropped several dot coms because of this paperwork.

    And yes, the long term goal is force rogue agencies into as few dot gov domains as possible, perhaps one day, to a single one.


  12. Josh says

    @Bob, they were going to renew it, from the horses mouth.

    What happened was the fed employee who was the admin no longer held that position, by the time they called to tell NS they were going to renew and discovered the employee was no longer there…it was gone.

  13. says

    Most registrars do not abide by any specific time period and therein lies the problem.

    What’s the problem, exactly? As noted, the RAA says registrars have 0 to 45 days for auto renew grace period of expired names.

    Some like Go Daddy give up to 18 days to registrants. NetSol and Moniker allow up to 35, last I checked.

    The RAA leaves it to each registrar to decide for themselves how much time it can afford to give its registrants to renew expired domain names. That’s why I said the RAA, say, doesn’t require registrars something like, “You have to let your customer renew his/her expired domain name within 45 days or else you lose your accreditation.”

    Anyway, I gather what some people here wonder is: a) why a U.S. government office or so didn’t renew the .com domain name, and/or b) why no one seems to know if the .com name was auctioned or not, and/or c) if some collusion, conspiracy, etc. occurred. It’s probably simplifying things, but – at least – I gather it’s because no one paid attention.

    Maybe NetSol and NameJet eventually auctioned the name, maybe some so-called underground deal occurred, nobody knows. That’s why I suggested for someone to come forward with some kind of material proof lest we just keep speculating for nothing.

  14. Josh says

    @Dave, There are answers to your questions in the comments, question “A)” for example.

    All we do not know for sure is how much Medx paid and if it was in fact outside of an auction.

    If the name sold outside of the drop auction and NetSol renewed it vs deleting it without the registrants permission it appears to be a clear violation. The grace period itself is now just a side track to the important issue. 1 day 45 days, don’t care, did they renew and sell thus potentially breaking policy, beyond any ethical aspect of things.

  15. Adam says

    You’re right Dave. The RAA leaves it to the registrar. That’s not a problem ? Why would we ever want to make a firm time period for RGP ? Surely the registrars would do right by the registrant and not be motivated in any way to have a 0 day RGP. What really is the point of an RGP period if it’s willy nilly? Oh wait, it’s so the registrar can have a few days to check ppc stats or see if there are any bidders on the name before THEY RENEW IT ! Now I get it. RGP has nothing to do with helping registrants. The RGP length (or lack of) is determined by financial incentives. I guess it doesn’t really matter since it’s OK by the RAA.

    However, as Josh points out, the registrar has to have a reason to renew the domain (and document that) Do you see no flaws where the registrar has NO incentive to notify the registrant of the loss of their name and then bypasses a specific rule about renewing domains ?

    Lucky for the registrars that we registrants aren’t party to their RAA contracts. We just get their handy TOS which says they can take a name (and break their RAA agreement) whenever they want.

    The RAA has provisions which were included to protect registrants, yet registrants are stripped of their domains and the only one who profits from the value in that domain is the registrar and their auction partners. BS!

  16. Billy Middle says


    Bob is right! They are not allowed to own .COM domain names. They want the public to know .GOV is them,,, and .COM is private companies. I doubt the government worker that called them even new they where no allowed to renew the domain.

  17. Josh says

    Where is it stated the government is not allowed to operate a .com or even renew one they had used for over a decade+?

  18. Josh says

    @Billy, thank you sir. I see what you mean, red tape to continue use, see…
    4.2. Waivers to the Domain Name Policy
    It is however a non factor in this case unless an excuse as to why it wasn’t renewed sooner.

    The fact it was desired to be renewed came straight from the top, I will not share their name but their office is appointed by the President, it was going to be renewed and totally legal when one reads 4.2.

  19. says

    1 day 45 days, don’t care, did they renew and sell thus potentially breaking policy, beyond any ethical aspect of things.

    It’s fine to voice questions or perhaps suspicions. Yet, that’s all they’ll remain until someone comes forward with material proof of such.

    You’re right Dave. The RAA leaves it to the registrar. That’s not a problem ? Why would we ever want to make a firm time period for RGP ? Surely the registrars would do right by the registrant and not be motivated in any way to have a 0 day RGP. What really is the point of an RGP period if it’s willy nilly?

    Hang on. I think there’s some, let’s just say, confusion here.

    Are you really referring to RGP or the auto renew grace period? RGP, the period after the expired domain name is deleted for non-payment, is set for 30 days, no ifs ands or buts.

    If you’re actually referring to the auto renew grace period, the 45-day period registrars are allowed to do something to expired domain names, then let’s maybe discuss that. As noted, the RAA leaves it up to the registrar to decide how much auto renew grace period to give to its own registrants.

    Before Tucows acquired it years ago, ex-registrar ItsYourDomain (believe it or not) had no auto renew grace period for its customers. As in if the .com domain name expired, it’ll be deleted without warning and head straight to RGP onwards.

    (I’ll try to remember a forum post of an ex-IYD employee confirming that somewhere. That part just stuck in my mind because, back then, they were the only registrar I knew that never gave grace periods for expired .com domains.)

    So, I guess what you and others essentially “complain” about is why registrars don’t – say – have one consistent auto renew grace period policy among one other for its customers? Like, must they allow their customers 45 days to renew their expired names or else kiss them goodbye?

    I ask that because despite their role, registrars have as much say on that matter. While customers are paying those registrars for those domain names, remember that those registrars paid the costs to offer that privilege of letting people register and/or renew domains in the first place.

    Barring any possibly selfish interests (and who doesn’t have them?), a major reason why each registrar has its own auto renew grace periods for customers (anywhere from 0 to 18 to 35 days instead of the full 45) is it depends on its business model.

    Mind you, Go Daddy charges about $10+ a year for a .com, and gives only up to 18 days to renew. Meanwhile, Network Solutions charges $35+ a year and Moniker about $10+ also, and both give up to 35 days.

    The business model thing may be an excuse for some (and perhaps it is), yet that’s also a material basis for registrars to decide how much auto renew grace period they can afford to give to their customers. You can maybe tell ICANN to make the 45-day compulsory for all registrars towards their customers, and you can bet some (if not all) of them will push back.

    Now, as for a registrar “renewing” an expired domain name for its customer: I suppose eNom has some explaining to do (although their contract can always say, “We’re giving customers a courtesy extra opportunity blah blah blah), although – IIRC – Moniker (I think) auto-renewed or locked the remaining domain names of a recently deceased domainer (Mrs. Jello?) to prevent the rest from lapsing until his estate resolved matters.

    Again, just to be clear: is the problem here the lack of a consistent auto renew grace period (i.e. 45 days) among registrars, or that for Redemption Grace Period of 30 days that all registrars must follow after the expired domain name is deleted (mostly) for non-payment?

    One more thing: don’t forget that when the Registry auto-renews an expired .com domain name, it bills the sponsoring registrar for that. In turn, the registrar may be reimbursed for that auto-renew fee if it has the auto-renewed/expired domain name deleted within that 45-day period.

    Sorry for the rather long-winded comment. I actually took a rather long while to write, review and edit that before finally submitting it, but I hope it’s made certain things clearer somehow. (or at least one where we’re hopefully in the same page.)

    Otherwise, we’ll probably agree to disagree. It happens, though.

  20. says

    Buy and sell domains is a business worth millions, you can protect your brand, but people also fight for the right of the names that have not been patented…dont cry – you catch or lose, this is business, nothing personal

  21. Jan Harris says

    UPDATE: Medx Publishing sold medicaid.com domain in May of 2014 to Unitedhealth Group of Minnesota. Does anyone know how much medicaid.com sold for? Thanks !!!

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