US

Internal docs: All Obamacare signups ultimately go through same computer system

The problems with early enrollment into the Obamacare exchanges have been more vast than just the website HealthCare.gov, according to new internal documents.

The internal Obama administration meeting notes released Monday by House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa reveal that the Obamacare enrollment alternatives to HealthCare.gov — phone and paper applications — have been no more effective than the glitchy website, as they must go through the same system.

According to Oct. 11 HealthCare.gov “War Room” notes, “The same portal is used to determine eligibility no matter how the application is submitted (paper, online), so improving that experience for everyone matters and there is coordination to improve that experiment.”

And while all applications must go through the same “portal,” according to the notes, having people fill out paper applications make them feel like they are making progress.

“The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option; at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue,” the Oct. 11 notes read.

“Navigators are seeing people very frustrated and walking away, so they are turning to paper applications to protect their reputations as people in the communities who can help, even though paper applications will not have a quicker result necessarily,” the Oct. 15 notes read.

On Oct. 21, the same day President Obama assured Americans in the White House Rose Garden that they could go through the call centers and use paper applications to enroll, the meeting notes said, “We are to instruct Navigators to use paper applications rather than go through the call center.”

The House Oversight Committee obtained the meeting notes through an Oct. 24 oversight request to 11 of the largest contractors for HealthCare.gov.

Administration officials told ABC News, which first obtained the oversight documents, that the president was aware of the fact that people applying outside of HealthCare.gov would still have to go through the same system.

“The benefit of the call center is that in addition to a representative being able to enter your info directly to the website, he or she can fill out an application for you manually over the phone if the website is not working,” an official told ABC News.  “The reps then enter the application into system later.  That’s why we sent people to call centers why [sic] website was slow or, in the case of a few days last week, down entirely.”

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