STRIKE TWO: 18,000 left without coverage after new Medicaid glitch
In the latest failure of glitch-ridden HealthCare.gov, West Virginia officials have announced that the federal Obamacare exchange failed to send complete records on 18,000 residents that applied for Medicaid.
Iowa state officials reported the same problem just before Christmas, revealing the glitch put 10,000 Iowans’ coverage in jeopardy. The latest reports suggest this was not an isolated incident. (RELATED: Feds fail to send records on 10,000 Iowa Medicaid applications)
“This really is a national problem,” warned Jeremiah Samples, assistant secretary for West Virginia’s health department, according to the Charleston Gazette.
If customers enter their information on HealthCare.gov and the federal government determines them to be eligible for Medicaid coverage, their application files are supposed to be sent to state officials for an official eligibility determination and actual enrollment. But in West Virginia and Iowa, the last step never happened.
Samples told the West Virginia Gazette that HealthCare.gov is sending only “flat files,” records with basic information about the applicant but not full enrollment files with all the data necessary for Medicaid enrollment.
The West Virginia health department is sending out letters to 10,000 of the 18,000 affected, instructing them to sign up for Medicaid again on the state website, a call center, or a state health department office instead of HealthCare.gov.
The remaining 8,000 were West Virginians who attempted to sign up for Medicaid but turned out to be ineligible for the program. While these customers’ information was supposed to be automatically sent to HealthCare.gov, yet another glitch prevented the transfer from happening.
Those who are eligible for Medicaid will be retroactively covered as long as they reapply via state sites within three months, according to Perry Bryant, executive director of West Virginians for Affordable Health Care.
But until the second round of applications is complete, these customers still won’t have access to health coverage as promised.
It’s up to Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, the only insurer participating in West Virginia’s exchange,to decide whether the 8,000 West Virginians whose files weren’t properly transferred to HealthCare.gov will be able to retroactively apply for private insurance.
Highmark has not yet responded to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
But while the Obama administration has asked insurers to ease Obamacare’s glitches by accepting premium payments after January 1, many insurance companies have backed away from retroactive coverage. Bryant hopes that won’t be a problem for these West Virginia consumers.
“These people played by the rules and did everything right, and it was a computer glitch, a malfunction that created a gap in coverage,” Bryant told the Gazette. “That should not occur.”
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