Morning Action: Obamacare Woes Extend Through Thanksgiving
ID VERIFICATION. The Administration has identified yet another problem with HealthCare.gov, just days before their self-imposed deadline to fix the website (sub. req’d):
Just days before the Obama administration’s self-imposed deadline to fix the troubled federal health insurance website, officials said Monday that they were aware of another problem that has prevented thousands of people who were unable to verify their identity from shopping for health plans.
Many users of the website have had their applications cast into limbo after they uploaded copies of documents like driver’s licenses, Social Security cards and voter registration cards, or sent them to the office of the federal insurance marketplace in London, Ky.
Administration officials said the government had established strict procedures to verify that people applying for insurance were who they said they were, in order to prevent fraud and identity theft. But a breakdown in the process instead is causing concern among some consumers about the handling of their personal information.
People who cannot establish their identity by answering certain questions at HealthCare.gov are instructed to call the help desk at Experian, a credit reporting agency, for “ID proofing.”
Customer service representatives for the federal marketplace and for Experian said they had received calls from many people who were unable to verify their identity, and internal government documents show that lower-level federal employees have known of a problem for weeks.
The federal website says identity verification is needed to protect consumers’ personal information.
Consumers are asked questions that, according to the government, only they can answer. The questions are based on information in their credit reports — even though federal officials expect to receive many applications from young people and low-income people with little credit history.
SMALL BUSINESS. Small businesses are dropping insurance because of Obamacare:
One woman’s story of never ending struggles with Obamacare came to light Tuesday morning on CBS’ This Morning.
Nancy Clark, a New Hampshire small business owner, was featured in a White House Video Blog last year, touting “[The] healthcare law is about me, it’s NancyCare.”
A year later, though, and it seems that Obamacare is not about Nancy- she has experienced problems with the Obamacare website and her insurance coverage has been dropped.
Clark received notice last month that her insurer would be raising her rates by 39% next year, due to Obamacare.
Unable to afford such high hikes, she turned to healthcare.gov in hopes of enrolling the Obamacare exchange.
Clark attempted to access the website, only to encounter glitches. “We’re experiencing technical difficulties. That’s the nature of the beast” she told CBS.
EPIC FAILURE. Oregon’s Obamacare sign up has been called an “epic failure”:
Oregon once led the country in implementing Obamacare. Now it’s just about dead last.
Not one person has yet enrolled in the Cover Oregon insurance exchange — a major embarrassment to state policymakers who early on had wholeheartedly embraced the Affordable Care Act even as other states tried their best to hinder it.
After repeatedly delaying its website’s enrollment feature because of technical problems, exchange officials are still scrambling. Gov. John Kitzhaber announced new efforts Friday toward that goal, but mid-December is the soonest officials expect online enrollment could be available, and even that date is in doubt. Until then, the only way to sign up for coverage through the state-run program is via paper — a very long way from where Oregon had originally envisioned itself this far into open-enrollment season. The breakdown illustrates how even a gung-ho, tech-savvy state can stumble badly while attempting to expand coverage.
“It is such an epic failure, literally it’s mind-boggling,” said state Rep. Jason Conger, a Republican from central Oregon who’s running for Sen. Jeff Merkley’s seat next year.
PERSISTENT GLITCHES. Approaching the November 30 deadline to get HealthCare.gov up and running, major glitches still persist:
Perhaps purposely lowering expectations after promising a fully functional website by the end of November, the Department of Human and Health Services is now saying the glitches and problems are not over.
“The system will not work perfectly on Dec. 1, but it will operate much better than it did in October,” Julie Bataille, director for the Office of Communications at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, said Monday on a conference call with reporters.
By the end of the month, the website will be able to sustain the numbers that had originally been planned for — 50,000 users on the site simultaneously. That translates to approximately 800,000 visits a day from consumers.
But curb your enthusiasm.
“As we move forward, we will find additional glitches and experience intermittent periods of suboptimal performance,” said Bataille. “As we make these improvements, we expect to see intermittent periods when the system may be slow or not responsive. But we’ve made measurable progress and we are moving forward.”
POLL. Thanks to Obamacare’s botched rollout, Democrats’ approval has fallen in the polls:
The political gains that Democrats made on the generic congressional ballot as a result of the federal government shutdown continue to collapse, as a new CNN/ORC poll shows Republicans re-taking the lead on the generic congressional ballot.
Less than a year ahead of the all-important 2014 midterm elections, Republicans now lead Democrats by a 49-47 edge on the ballot, in which pollsters ask respondents if they’d choose a Republican or Democrat without mentioning specific candidates.
That’s a remarkable shift from just a month ago — when Democrats held a formidable 50-42 advantage as Republicans were getting blamed for the shutdown. But after the shutdown ended, coverage began piling up with the problems of the Affordable Care Act’s rollout, featuring a dysfunctional website and piling-up concerns about plan cancellations.
Independents now by and large prefer a generic GOP candidate on the congressional ballot, by a 53-36 margin.