Thousands Stuck in Obamacare Appeals Limbo

You may have heard that,
which powers the federally run health insurance exchange for 36
states, is, after its disastrous rollout last year, all fixed up
and working basically fine. Obamacare is on track. But that’s not
true, it seems, for anyone who wants to file an appeal regarding
insurance coverage obtained through the system.

Some 22,000 people have already filed appeals, saying that the
system made a mistake with their application. But those appeals
have gone nowhere, because the computer system meant to handle them
has not been built,
according to The Washington Post
, which obtained
access to internal government data on progress completing the
website. Telephone help doesn’t work either, because call center
employees can’t access the appeals system either. 

The Post had to rely on leaked government data and
anonymous insiders for its report because the Obama administration
never disclosed the exchange’s lack of appeals functionality. When
asked about the appeals mechanism, an administration spokesperson
responded with a weasely half-admission that, yes, the appeals
system isn’t finished, saying, “We are working to fully implement
the appeals system.” Progress! Always progress. Except that there’s
no indication that the administration is making any. Insiders tell
the Post that they have no idea when the system
will be complete.

If anything, the administration has worked to mislead people
about the status of the appeals functionality, setting up a system
that allowed someone to file an appeal that, after being sent off,
entered a sort of digital limbo.

The appeals system appears to be one of many components of
Obamacare’s technology that has not been built yet. At the end of
last year, a senior tech official for Medicare, which manages the
health exchange,
told members of Congress that 30-40 percent of the system had yet
to be completed
, including crucial payment systems. Those
payment systems, which include various money-shuffling
risk-mitigation schemes that the administration
says are critical
to keeping the whole law afloat, still
haven’t been completed. The administration recently fired its old
tech contractor brought on a new firm to complete the remaining

Whatever else one thinks about the law and its design, it’s
clear that the administration, as well as
several state governments
attempting to build their own
exchanges, wasn’t even close to sufficiently prepared for launch
last October. This looks like a project that needed another year or
more before going live. Instead, the administration chose to beta
test a faulty, incomplete product on the public while papering over
their own administrative failures and incompetence.

from Hit & Run

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