No Cost Plan to Greatly Improve Obamacare Customer Service

4plan 2have HHS use up to 10,000 empty desks @ 1300 SSA offices to provide Obamacare Walk-in service

Sunday, December 8, 2013

New Obamacare Directive May Cause Bigger PR Problem than a Crappy Website: Have Obamacare Workers Been Told Not to Take Anymore Paper Applications?

Every government benefit program I have worked with at SSA and HHS based the beginning eligibility month on the date filed not the date processed. Citizens should not be disadvantaged by the government's inability to process applications. 
On 12/4/13, HHS actually claimed that the backlog of paper applications that mounted in October has now been cleared.
On 12/5/13, two sources at the national level told me that HHS/CMS has made progress on data entry of the paper applications and they just started trying to contact applicants to resolve missing or discrepant entries.  I thought they would have started this over a month ago.  It usually takes SSA 4 to 6 weeks to work this kind of workload.  They believe that customers who asked to received their decision letters by email are getting them in some cases.  However, their system for mailing paper decision letters by regular mail has so many problems that it is kind of at a standstill.  I talked to one Obamacare Application Helper who has only been able to enroll 3 families online since October 1.  The rest they had to resort to paper application.
I suggest that anyone filing a paper application:
    1.  should make a complete copy of it
    2. and send it by certified mail. 
    3. They should then call the 800# in 5 to 6 days to verify whether it was received and/or processed.
    4. Then file an appeal  or contact the Omsbudsman before 12/23/13 if they have not received a decision on their subsidy. 

Here is the link to the newest tip sheet for navigators and application helpers:
Item III states:
NOTE: for the paper scenario – a consumer MUST select a plan by December 23rd in order to be guaranteed the ability to enroll in a plan with coverage beginning on January 1st, 2014. The consumer should mail in the application allowing ample time for processing of the application and the sending of the paper eligibility determination notice.  We highly recommend whenever possible that you assist the consumer using the online application tool in order to ensure the consumer is able to complete the entire process and select a plan before December 23rd.
Another Obamacare worker told me that someone up the line told them that helpers should discourage and basically stop using of paper applications. 
I can understand that spokesman for HHS/CMS are following the company line when they say they have not told people to stop using paper apps.  I was an office manager at Social Security for 20 years and when we were on the verge of furloughs or shutdowns due to sequester, debt ceiling, or lack of a budget, we had weekly conference calls to discuss how the agency was going to handle the issues.  All management was banned from talking to employees, the union, or journalist about the phone calls and we were all told to put nothing in writing even if was just our notes. 
The problem is that customers that file applications before 12/23/13 should have their filing date protected by navigators and helpers so they can get help in January.  We have hundreds of pages of employee instructions at SSA on how to protect filing dates, (see the link below)  SSA has been the subject of class action suits in the past and had to rework many many cases.  There were a half million cases called the Special Disability Workload that took over a decade to re-work where a person was due 2 types of benefits and we only paid 1 and we had to pay benefits retroactively over many years.  Let me know and I can find Congressional testimony with details.  Many disability claim appeals take a year or two to process and claimant are due retroactive Medicare coverage for several months or years in the past.  We had a procedure called Equitable Relief where the claimant did not have to pay several years of Medicare Premiums. 
Here is the home page for SSA employee instructions:
SSA employee instructions for protective filing dates:
For years I interviewed citizens when they filed for Social Security benefits.  And for years I could not help them when they or other family members needed health insurance unless they qualified for Medicare.  Finally people will get some relief from the burden of living uninsured. 
Unfortunately, we are like the lower classes who populated the lower levels of the Titanic.  They had to swim underwater just to get off the ship.  And then when they are finally floating free of the wreckage, they see a what looks like a small life boat.  However, when they swim over to it in a state of exhaustion and exasperation, they realize it is just a large jellyfish ( and they end up wrapped in its painful tentacles (glitches, delays, and confusion.)

In order to keep Obamacare from crashing, the Administration must take Bold, Decisive, Positive Action.  See a plan posted at
Only honesty and sincere concern can keep Obamacare from losing the trust and good will of the people.

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