August 29 2014
Patrice J. Lee
Healthcare.org is the gift that keeps on giving. Too bad for President Obama and the Administration, it’s giving Americans a taste of government ineptitude and ineffectiveness. The latest snafu is not just embarrassing but may leave hundreds of thousands of Americans without coverage.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent letters to 310,000 ObamaCare applicants asking for income and immigration documentation. That information is used to determine eligibility for coverage and taxpayer-funded subsidies. The deadline to submit that information is in one week on September 5 after which they will lose their coverage.
The problem is applicants claim they submitted this documentation multiple times before and through different means. Healthcare.gov has no record of these files, which is frustrating applicants. As we’ve reported before, healthcare.gov launched even though it lacked important verification capabilities. While it’s impossible to consider every detail of such a massive operation, did the idea of a verification system escape everyone? So the Administration has spent the summer playing catch-up, but it still can’t even get this right.
Hundreds of thousands of people risk losing their new health insurance policies if they don't resubmit citizenship or immigration information to the government by the end of next week -- but the federal Healthcare.gov site remains so glitchy that they are having a tough time complying.
Consumers are being forced to send their information multiple times, and many can't access their accounts at all, immigration law experts and insurance agents say.
CMS spokesman Aaron Albright says letters were sent only to people for whom the government has no citizenship or immigration documentation. Yet agents and others who assisted immigrants with applications say they know documentation was sent during enrollment.
Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, says the problems don't lie with the consumers. The federal databases for the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration are outdated, have mismatched Social Security numbers and names, and often transpose names for those from other countries, especially refugees from Africa, she says.
Meanwhile, many can't access their accounts. All passwords were changed in April because of a security threat, causing confusion for many consumers.
The Administration is in hot water right now. They have been unable to resolve 2.6 million citizenship and immigration inconsistences in ObamaCare applications. If these 310,000 applicants lose their coverage because they can’t verify eligibility, that will have an impact on the mix of ObamaCare enrollees.
Experts and members of Congress have been calling for an update on enrollment numbers for some time. In a commitment to transparency—note our sarcasm—the Administration decided to stop releasing monthly reports on enrollment. Last April, the President boasted about hitting 8 million enrollments, however, after open enrollment ended in May there have still been opportunities for Americans to secure coverage –due to life changes such as getting married and having children. As the Daily Caller notes, the pool of enrollees may look very different from it last Spring.
There are technical glitches that the government should’ve have figured out how to remedy by now. It appears the lessons of last October were not learned after all when healthcare.gov failed to launch and the entire rollout exposed how unorganized and unprepared the Administration was.
The greatest problems with ObamaCare are not the technical problems though. The real issues are the distortions on the healthcare market that are driving costs for individuals and employers higher, the loss of access to (affordable) healthcare plans and providers, the erosion of freedom, and the resulting unintended consequences that are rippling across our economy. An improved website just won’t fix those.
This is what happens when government leaders think they can solve our problems with the strike of a pen.