Joshua Lott/Getty ImagesSecretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius speaking last month in Detroit.By Peter Cooney
WASHINGTON — The HealthCare.gov website isn’t yet equipped to handle appeals by thousands of consumers seeking to correct errors the system made when they were signing up for the new federal health care law, the Washington Post reported Sunday.
The newspaper, citing sources familiar with the situation, said appeals by about 22,000 people were sitting untouched in a government computer.
“And an unknown number of consumers who are trying to get help through less formal means — by calling the health care marketplace directly — are told that HealthCare.gov’s computer system isn’t yet allowing federal workers to go into enrollment records and change them,” according to the Post.
It added that the Obama administration hadn’t made public the problem with the appeals system.
Despite efforts by legal advocates to press the White House on the situation, “there is no indication that infrastructure … necessary for conducting informal reviews and fair hearings has even been created, let alone become operational,” attorneys for the National Health Law Program were quoted as saying in a December letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, which oversees HealthCare.gov.
The Post quoted two knowledgeable people as saying it was unclear when the appeals process would become available.
The system is designed to allow people filing appeals to do so by computer, phone or mail. But only mail is currently available, the newspaper said.
Officials at the White House and CMS couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. The Post quoted a CMS spokesman as saying the agency was working “to fully implement the appeals system.”
The health care law, known as “Obamacare,” is designed to provide health coverage to millions of uninsured people in the United States, but was plagued by a botched rollout in October.
The Obama administration said in late January that enrollment soared in recent weeks to about 3 million.
-Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton.