By Naomi Lopez Bauman -
USA Today reported that thousands of people are being mistakenly enrolled in Medicaid due to continued glitches in the healthcare.gov website. Now, it is being reported that more than 100,000 people in five states, including 30,000 in Illinois, have not been able to enroll in the Medicaid program directly from the government site.
Both groups are now facing a state of uninsured limbo. Those who qualify for private coverage have been thrown into the Medicaid ranks, while those who should qualify for Medicaid are unable to enroll directly from the healthcare.gov website. So instead of a web shopping experience like customers would have with Amazon or Travelocity, both groups are now being forced to wait weeks or months to resolve their insurance statuses as their paperwork works its way through a log-jammed, bureaucratic maze.
Jordan Wishner, a Chicago-area insurance broker who was quoted in the USA Today article, reports that – now, weeks later – his clients remain trapped in a long and bureaucratic appeals process that could take months to resolve. While some have purchased short-term health insurance coverage, none are able to take advantage of the federal health insurance subsidies for which they qualify to purchase private coverage.
Illinois is already facing enormous challenges verifying if people already enrolled in the program are in fact eligible. The state of Illinois has been using a private contractor to scrub its Medicaid rolls, but the firm has now been blocked by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Not only was the firm able to perform these tasks more efficiently while saving money, but the firm also so far has found that 60 percent of the reviewed Medicaid enrollees were ineligible for that program.
The reason the private firm was sought in the first place was that the state was failing to verify Medicaid eligibility, confirmed by the state’s own Auditor General. In response to years of waste, fraud and abuse, state lawmakers hired a private firm to the job.
Now, at a time when competent and efficient Medicaid eligibility verification is needed more than ever, the state is receiving, at a minimum, tens of thousands Medicaid enrollee files containing those who are ineligible for the program but incorrectly enrolled, and those who are eligible, but have not been able to enroll because of the continued failures of the healthcare.gov website. One has to wonder how long these Illinoisans will be forced to wait for these errors to be sorted out, and how long taxpayers will be forced to foot the bill for these expensive and inefficient boondoggles.
Naomi Lopez Bauman is Director of Health Policy at the Illinois Policy Institute