Topics: Obamacare

CMS touts 'tremendous progress' on fixing website's back-end issues

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Politics,White House,Barack Obama,Obamacare,President,Health and Human Services,Health Care,PennAve,Meghashyam Mali,Healthcare.gov,Health Care Exchanges

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on Tuesday said that a special team was in place to fix healthcare.gov’s back-end issues on sharing enrollee data through “834 Forms” with insurance providers.

CMS touted “tremendous progress” on addressing the issues, and said they are committed that “every 834 Form that was past and present is accurate and received,” but still refused to provide the error rate for transmitting data on consumers to insurers, a key element of signing up enrollees for coverage.

CMS spokesperson Julie Bataille said the team “actively working” on the lingering 834 Form issues is composed of “[independent contractor] QSSI officials, CMS officials, and individual members of insurer’s tech teams.”

They are having “regular daily conversations to identify any additional issues in the system that need to be addressed,” she said.

The Obama administration this weekend said that it had “met the goal” set by the president of improving the website for the “vast majority” of users before the end of November. Insurers, however, say there are persistent problems on the back-end and that the website is transmitting faulty or incomplete information on enrollees that could prevent them from receiving insurance coverage.

The administration said Monday that the bug which caused 80 percent of the back-end issues has been resolved, but refused to share current error rates on data sharing with insurers.

Asked about a Washington Post report that a third of enrollments had errors, Bataille said only that the story “doesn’t reflect an accurate picture of what is happening right now.”

“We’ve made tremendous progress and huge improvements in 834 Forms,” she said.

The botched healthcare.gov website which was ridden with technical problems has resulted in lower-than-expected initial enrollment figures. The administration though says it is now working for most consumers and is shifting their focus to a public-relations blitz to boost enrollment.

The White House, in coordination with congressional Democrats and the party campaign committees, is launching a new campaign through the holiday season to sell the public again on the benefits of Obamacare.

The White House said Obama would hold an event a day to highlight the health law’s many benefits through Dec. 23, the deadline for signing up for January insurance coverage.

President Obama hit new lows in his approval rating and record numbers of Americans are expressing doubts about his trustworthiness and managerial skills after the website troubles and for his broken promise that all consumers could keep their current health plans despite new Obamacare regulations.

Democrats on Capitol Hill also worry that the poor rollout could hamper efforts to retake the House and hold the Senate in the 2014 midterms.

The troubled website can now handle 50,000 users at one time and the tech team instituted a new queuing system to direct users to revisit the site during less congested traffic times.

The Department of Health and Human Services said that healthcare.gov received 1 million visits on Monday. But critics note that the website had to resort to the queuing system before tapping the 50,000 capacity officials said it could handle.

Bataille said that 13,000 consumers were put into the queuing system over the course of Monday and that “all were invited to come back” and register on the same day

“Over 60 percent of those people who received emails to return did,” she added.

Bataille said CMS would also “proactively implement our queuing system this afternoon” for healthcare.gov ahead of a planned speech by President Obama on health care, in anticipation of a spike in traffic.

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