More glitches for healthcare.gov website

Rick Moran
If we're lucky, they'll have all the glitches ironed out just about the time that President Christie signs Obamacare's repeal.

Nearly 16,000 Iowans who tried to apply for coverage via the trouble-plagued federal health-insurance website are being told to apply separately through the state Department of Human Services.

The Friday afternoon announcement is the latest bout of bad news about the website, which is a key part of the Affordable Care Act.

The announcement affects people who entered their information into healthcare.gov and received a notice that they might qualify for Medicaid. The federal computer system was supposed to transfer their applications to a state computer system, but that transfer has been complicated by technical problems. The timing is critical, because the new insurance coverage is supposed to take effect on New Year's Day, which is Wednesday.

State officials say they can't guarantee that people in this situation will have coverage if they need to see a doctor before the mess is untangled.

The affected people should be receiving emails and letters about the situation from the state. They are being urged to reapply at the state website, dhsservices.iowa.gov, or by calling 1-855-889-7985.

The federal website's determination that applicants might qualify for Medicaid coverage was only preliminary. The Iowa Department of Human Services needs to determine which of the 16,000 people actually are eligible for Medicaid or related programs. Iowa administrators estimate that about 1,400 of them make too much money to qualify for the public programs. In such cases, the applicants would be sent back to the federal system to apply for private insurance policies with public subsidies to help cover the premiums, state officials said. It's not clear how long that could take.

Amy Lorentzen McCoy, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, said her agency hopes to have the issue sorted out by Jan. 31. Anyone who qualifies for Medicaid or related programs by then would have coverage retroactive to Jan. 1, she said. "We certainly want people to seek medical care if they need it," she said.

This is good reason #545 why states rejected the Medicaid expansion in Obamacre. If governors can see beyond the oodles of cash being doled out by Washington to cover people who make up to 138% above the poverty line, they discover the administrative nightmare involved in determining who qualifies. Every state is different and there are going to be people who slip through the cracks and receive coverage they don't deserve.

A recent audit of Illinois Medicaid recipients found just about half - more than 700,000 - are actually receiving benefits they don't qualify for. No doubt many states have a better vetting process than Illinois, but the massive influx of new Medicaid beneficiaries is going to strain the ability of the bureaucrats to insure that only those who qualify under the ACA should receive coverage.

Other than that, what could go wrong?

If we're lucky, they'll have all the glitches ironed out just about the time that President Christie signs Obamacare's repeal.

Nearly 16,000 Iowans who tried to apply for coverage via the trouble-plagued federal health-insurance website are being told to apply separately through the state Department of Human Services.

The Friday afternoon announcement is the latest bout of bad news about the website, which is a key part of the Affordable Care Act.

The announcement affects people who entered their information into healthcare.gov and received a notice that they might qualify for Medicaid. The federal computer system was supposed to transfer their applications to a state computer system, but that transfer has been complicated by technical problems. The timing is critical, because the new insurance coverage is supposed to take effect on New Year's Day, which is Wednesday.

State officials say they can't guarantee that people in this situation will have coverage if they need to see a doctor before the mess is untangled.

The affected people should be receiving emails and letters about the situation from the state. They are being urged to reapply at the state website, dhsservices.iowa.gov, or by calling 1-855-889-7985.

The federal website's determination that applicants might qualify for Medicaid coverage was only preliminary. The Iowa Department of Human Services needs to determine which of the 16,000 people actually are eligible for Medicaid or related programs. Iowa administrators estimate that about 1,400 of them make too much money to qualify for the public programs. In such cases, the applicants would be sent back to the federal system to apply for private insurance policies with public subsidies to help cover the premiums, state officials said. It's not clear how long that could take.

Amy Lorentzen McCoy, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, said her agency hopes to have the issue sorted out by Jan. 31. Anyone who qualifies for Medicaid or related programs by then would have coverage retroactive to Jan. 1, she said. "We certainly want people to seek medical care if they need it," she said.

This is good reason #545 why states rejected the Medicaid expansion in Obamacre. If governors can see beyond the oodles of cash being doled out by Washington to cover people who make up to 138% above the poverty line, they discover the administrative nightmare involved in determining who qualifies. Every state is different and there are going to be people who slip through the cracks and receive coverage they don't deserve.

A recent audit of Illinois Medicaid recipients found just about half - more than 700,000 - are actually receiving benefits they don't qualify for. No doubt many states have a better vetting process than Illinois, but the massive influx of new Medicaid beneficiaries is going to strain the ability of the bureaucrats to insure that only those who qualify under the ACA should receive coverage.

Other than that, what could go wrong?