Friday, October 18, 2013

#ObamaCare Disaster Deepens as Insurers Get Wrong Data

At WSJ, "Health Website Woes Widen as Insurers Get Wrong Data: New Errors Indicate Technological Problems Extend Issues Already Identified":
Insurers say the federal health-care marketplace is generating flawed data that is straining their ability to handle even the trickle of enrollees who have gotten through so far, in a sign that technological problems extend further than the website traffic and software issues already identified.

Emerging errors include duplicate enrollments, spouses reported as children, missing data fields and suspect eligibility determinations, say executives at more than a dozen health plans. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Nebraska said it had to hire temporary workers to contact new customers directly to resolve inaccuracies in submissions. Medical Mutual of Ohio said one customer had successfully signed up for three of its plans.

The flaws could do lasting damage to the law if customers are deterred from signing up or mistakenly believe they have obtained coverage.

"The longer this takes to resolve…the harder it will be to get people to [come back and] sign up," said Aetna Inc. Chief Executive Mark Bertolini. "It's not off to a great start," he said, though he believes the marketplaces are "here to stay."

The new troubles for the Affordable Care Act arrive as Washington's attention is expected to sharply shift toward scrutiny of the site's rocky rollout, whose problems had been overshadowed by a two-week brawl over the government shutdown and debt ceiling.

Pressure is rising on the Obama administration to fix the problems. A number of Republicans have urged Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, to resign. Prominent Democrats, including House Ways and Means ranking member Rep. Sander Levin (D., Mich.), have called for fixes to be accelerated. The White House has said it has full confidence in Ms. Sebelius.

HHS, which is running all or part of the marketplaces in 36 states, has repeatedly declined to answer specific questions about its handling of the rollout, including specific glitches, enrollment figures, or its plans to fix the problems.

"We know that people are enrolling in coverage and the system works. As individual problems are raised by insurers, we work aggressively to address them," HHS spokeswoman Joanne Peters said Thursday.

Health-department officials have pressured insurers to refrain from commenting publicly about the problems, according to executives at four health plans, who asked not to be named. The HHS declined to comment.

In prolonging the battles over the budget and debt ceiling, "all Republicans did was give [President Obama] great cover for the complete screw-up on the opening of the exchanges," said Gail Wilensky, a Medicare director in the administration of George H.W. Bush and UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH +0.28%  board member.

But the persistence of the technological problems could force a steeper political price for the Obama administration as Republican lawmakers redirect their focus. The GOP-led House Energy and Commerce Committee announced Thursday night it would hold a hearing next week on the rollout of the law and called on HHS to "voluntarily" make officials available after the secretary's staff said she couldn't come. Ms Peters, the HHS spokeswoman, said the department intended to be "responsive" to the request.
More at the click through.

And from Yuval Levin, at National Review, "Assessing the Exchanges." And at the Weekly Standard, "Obamacare Website Violates Licensing Agreement for Copyrighted Software."