Feds curtail paper applications for health care law
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Federal health officials, who encouraged alternate sign-up methods amid the fumbled rollout of their online insurance website, began quietly urging counselors around the country this week to stop using paper applications to enroll people in health insurance because of concerns those applications would not be processed in time.
Interviews with enrollment counselors, insurance brokers and a government official who works with navigators in Illinois reveal the latest change in direction by the Obama administration, which had been encouraging paper applications and other means because of the problems with the website. Consumers must sign up under the federal health overhaul by Dec. 23 in order for coverage to start in January.
“We received guidance from the feds recommending that folks apply online as opposed to paper,” said Mike Claffey, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Insurance.
After a conference call earlier this week with federal health officials, Illinois health officials sent a memo on Thursday to their roughly 1,600 navigators saying there is no way to complete marketplace enrollment through a paper application. The memo, which Claffey said was based on guidance from federal officials, said paper applications should be used only if other means aren't available.
Federal health officials discussed the issue during a conference call on Wednesday with navigators and certified counselors in several states.
“They've said, do not use paper applications because they won't be able to process them anywhere near in time,” said John Foley, attorney and certified counselor for Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, who was on the call.
That contradicts what federal health officials told reporters during a national media call this week, during which they said there were no problems with paper applications.
“There is still time to do paper applications,” Julie Bataille, communications director for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said on the call Wednesday.
A CMS spokesman declined to comment directly on the issue Friday. “With the recent fixes to the website, we are encouraging consumers to use HealthCare.gov, since it's the quickest way to get coverage, but paper applications remain an option for consumers and navigators if they choose,” said spokesman Aaron Albright.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police: 3 killed, 9 wounded in attack at Colorado Planned Parenthood
- Floods claim lives in Texas
- American held captive in Cuba for 5 years expected quick release
- Man accused of jumping White House fence left suicide note, authorities say
- FBI to begin tracking animal cruelty cases
- Chicago police videos of black teen McDonald’s death lack sounds; protests planned for ‘Black Friday’
- Self-driving vehicles closer to getting green light as feds ease stance
- Democrats face long odds in battle for lost congressional seats
- White House fence jumper captured on lawn
- Prescription skin drug costs skyrocket
- EPA works on algae rules to protect from toxins found in lakes, rivers