Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Paper ObamaCare applications also defective

WASHINGTON – The difficulties signing up for ObamaCare are not limited to the defective website – paper applications are “stuck in the same queue,” newly-released notes revealed Monday.  The notes, taken during a “War Room” meeting Oct. 11 between contractors and Obama administration officials, show that officials saw problems with paper applications even as the White House encouraged people to use sign up that way instead of going to the broken website.

“The paper applications allow people to feel like they are moving forward in the process and provides another option; at the end of the day, we are all stuck in the same queue,” said the notes from an Oct.
11 emergency meeting, which were obtained by House investigators.

President Obama nevertheless promoted the use of paper applications during an Oct. 21 speech at a Rose Garden event to address problems with the website.

“We updated the website’s home page to offer more information about the other avenues to enroll in affordable health care until the online option works for everybody,” Obama said.  “So you’ll find information about how to talk to a specialist who can help you apply over the phone or to receive a downloadable application you can fill out yourself and mail in.”

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) obtained the notes through document requests sent to 11 of the top contractors involved in the HealthCare.gov roll out. He released the notes Monday.

In a “War Room” meeting Oct. 3, just days after the disastrous launch of the website, officials questioned the viability of using paper applications as an alternative.

“Given the computer system issues, should we be saying that paper is better for now? Should assisters who are sitting with consumers use paper? Proposal: Raise the paper application issue at the group director meeting,” said the notes.

“Navigator issue: they should not be told to use paper applications until there is approval from leadership,” said one note.

At an Oct. 15 meeting, less than a week before Obama’s Rose Garden speech, the notes state: “Navigators are seeing people very frustrated and walking away, so they are turning to paper applications to protect their reputations as people in the communities who can help, even though paper applications will not have a quicker result necessarily.”

However, by Oct. 21, according to the notes, “[W]e are to instruct Navigators to use paper applications rather than go through the call center.”

The same notes also state that Serco, one of the contractors, “had over
3,000 applications submitted by the end of last week in paper form.”