New HealthCare.gov Woes: 100,000 Without Medicaid or Children's Coverage

Saturday, 04 Jan 2014 10:07 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Continued technology problems with the troubled HealthCare.gov website have left more than 100,000 Americans without Medicaid or children's health insurance even though they were told they were eligible for the coverage when they applied through the national site, The Washington Post reports.

"I think people are resigned to the fact that we have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us in the next few months," Thomas Shanahan, a spokesman for the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, told the Post.

"It is not going to be easy," he added. "But we have to get this right from the beginning or the frustration will continue."

The latest problem for Obamacare and the beleaguered HealthCare.gov website has the administration calling people in 21 states who applied for the coverage and advising them to reapply through their state's Medicaid agency, the Post reports.

The calls are being made by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees HealthCare.gov. The site covers 36 states that lack their own health exchanges. The other program affected by this latest development is the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

The new development comes after continued reports from the White House that many of the glitches that had plagued HealthCare.gov since the individual Obamacare mandate took effect on Oct. 1 had largely been addressed.

Meanwhile, state officials are scrambling to get Americans signed up for coverage — and it includes enrolling some based on incomplete federal data or sending out letters asking them to contact state programs to sign up, the Post reports.

In Idaho, Shanahan's agency has five workers sending out letters to 6,000 people identified through the HealthCare.gov data encouraging them to apply through the department.

“It would be ideal if we didn’t have to go through this,” Jeremiah Samples, assistant secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, told the Post.

In West Virginia, about 10,000 residents identified by HealthCare.gov as being eligible for Medicaid coverage will soon receive letters instructing them to apply through the state's website, he said.

"For our consumers,” Samples told the Post, “when the system doesn’t work for them, it just adds unease."

But Tara McGuinness, the White House senior communications adviser, told the Post that the latest issue in the Obamacare debacle "impacts a small fraction of Americans who will have access to healthcare from Medicaid."

About 3.9 million people nationwide were found to be eligible for Medicaid or the children's program in October and November, McGuinness said. New registrants and renewals were included in that figure.

The more than 100,000 people who have not made it into the programs, however, are among the nearly 270,000 Americans who applied through HealthCare.gov then and were told that they qualified for the programs, she said.

McGuinness said that she expected everyone who qualified for coverage to be enrolled soon.

“One hundred percent of those who are having issues are being contacted by us or the states,” she told the Post.

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