Peter McCurdy was informed months ago that his HSA insurance would no longer be allowed under the Affordable Care Act. Begrudgingly, the Painesville, Ohio, pastor signed up for health insurance under the federal exchange when he decided he couldn’t afford private options.
McCurdy told TheBlaze he began the process in October and completed it on Dec. 23 — or so he thought. It turns out, only he and his wife are currently insured, not his four children, due to a snafu that appears to have originated on the federal end.
McCurdy explained that as he was applying — over the phone he said because the website wasn’t working — he was told he couldn’t sign his children up for insurance on his plan because they might be covered under the state’s Medicaid program.
“I was assured a letter would come,” McCurdy said. That letter would advise him on what to do.
But no instruction came.
“My kids lost insurance on Jan 1. They have no insurance and there’s no direction on how they can follow and get insurance yet,” McCurdy, still waiting for the letter, said.
He said he contacted the state’s health insurance department and the Medicaid department, neither of which could provide any information about what he should do.
“I am furious and frustrated,” he told TheBlaze.
But reports that emerged over the weekend might have pinpointed where things went wrong for McCurdy.
A few days before Jan. 1 and into the New Year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services were calling individuals who, through the federal exchange application, indicated they might be eligible for Medicaid. The applications had not yet been passed onto the states.
“We have not received a single application,” Sam Rossi, communications director for the Ohio Department of Medicaid, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer on New Year’s Eve.
“Ohioans who applied for health care benefits on the federal website (www.Healthcare.gov) but were denied because that system determined they might be eligible for Ohio Medicaid instead were notified by the federal government that an application was forwarded on their behalf to Ohio to determine Medicaid eligibility,” a fact sheet from the state about the issue explained. “However, because of glitches in Healthcare.gov, the federal government did not transfer those applications to the State.”
According to The Washington Post, the widespread issue goes back to software not transferring applications to states as it should.
As a result, the feds were calling households, not just in Ohio, advising them to sign up for Medicaid through their respective states.
“In order to get enrolled more quickly, we recommend that you contact your state to complete the state’s application,” the call said, according to the Plain Dealer.
“We have been reaching out to consumers to let them know the steps they need to take to complete their enrollment and begin coverage,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services emailed TheBlaze in a statement. ”If consumers have any questions as to whether they are enrolled in Medicaid or [Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)] or how to use their coverage, they should contact their state Medicaid or CHIP agency.”
Some states have taken informing people into their own hands. Here’s more on those efforts from the Washington Post:
“It would be ideal if we didn’t have to go through this,” said Jeremiah Samples, assistant secretary of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The department is mailing letters to 10,000 residents indicated by federal records as eligible for coverage under a Medicaid expansion, telling them to apply through a state Medicaid Web site. “For our consumers,” he said, “when the system doesn’t work for them, it just adds unease.”
The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare has assembled a team of five workers to send letters to 6,000 people identified through federal records, urging them to submit applications to the state, spokesman Thomas Shanahan said. Agency officials and their mail contractor worked on New Year’s Day to prepare the materials so they could be sent first thing Thursday morning, he added. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency responsible for the federal health exchange, has been making calls to those same households.
Overall, White House senior communications adviser Tara McGuinness told the Post that this issue should only impact a “small fraction” of people who have signed up through the federal exchange.
For now, McCurdy told TheBlaze he an his wife are “reluctantly applying through our local Jobs and Family Services office for the Medicaid for the kids.”